June 2, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) looks to make a pass during a playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Thunder defeated the Spurs 109-103 Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE
ESPN has officially embarked on their quest to rank the top 500 NBA players for the upcoming season. As each Spur is listed, I will provide a synopsis and a brief take on why they deserve (or don’t) this ranking.
A year after ranking behind Alexis Ajinca, Desagna Diop, Royal Ivey and Armon Johnson in ESPN’s NBA Rank, Danny Green has nestled into the 160th spot this year, a resounding indictment of his impressive third season where he averaged 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 43.6% shooting from behind the arc.
It represents one of the biggest jumps this season in NBA rank and it is justified by his new contract (worth $12 million for three seasons, fully guaranteed) and starting role on a championship contending team. Green’s performance allowed Manu Ginobili to settle into a defined role, where his play making gifts were fully distilled and his efficiency reached career high levels.
Had Green been ineffective, Ginobili wouldn’t have enjoyed as much creative freedom (plus the benefit of attacking against lesser opponents) and Gregg Popovich couldn’t have justified playing him 23.3 minutes per game due to sheer attrition. James Anderson underachieved and Green stepped in and performed better than reasonably expected. For this reason, Green is a good candidate to be an important underpinning of the Spurs organization this season and for years to come even though he only has one solid season to date.
My take. The ESPN panel pegged Green as a player that sticks as the fifth or sixth best rotation player. That is exactly where his value lies with the Spurs so this isn’t a bad place to slot him. (I still have my reservations whether Green is actually worse than Jason Kidd at this point though.)