Danny Green, NBA rotation player
AT&T Center–What is the sound of one hand clapping? If you listen closely enough behind the San Antonio Spurs bench it’s the sound of injured guard Manu Ginobili watching Danny Green come into his own right before our very eyes.
Of course, to hear Ginobili one would have to drown out the cacophony of the AT&T Center crowd following Green’s latest exploits (24 points, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks) in the Spurs 121-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
“He played great, he was very aggressive, he shot the ball well, he had more confidence,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “He’s improving game-by-game. That’s great with Manu out, if Danny can play consistent like that, it’s great for us.”
Like a healthy Ginobili, Green was everywhere in the fourth quarter, drawing charges, blocking shots, getting steals, and knocking down timely shots. And for a moment, if you squinted your eyes real tight and allow for a moment of hyperbole, it almost looked like Manu Ginobili out there.
With the game winding down in its closing seconds Nuggets forward Danilo Galinari (31 points, 10-16 shooting) drove baseline, cocked the ball back in one hand, and was met at the rim without warning by Green. That it was a foul shows he still has a ways to go, that he was in that play shows he has what it takes to get there.
“[Danny Green]’s an NBA player and he’s playing with confidence,” San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s been through a lot of trials and been denied many times over the last several years.
“He’s a great example of sticking with it, not getting down on oneself, continuing to play, improve, listen, and right now he’s playing well and has been a significant part of what we’re doing.”
Green was a part of a national championship team in college at North Carolina, playing role player on a star-studded team featuring Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis, and Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson. He was drafted 46th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavalier, then under the management of former Spurs player Danny Ferry and later waived.
When Ferry returned to the Spurs he brought Green with him. After a quick look, the Spurs cut him before bringing him back towards the end of last year, forming the foundations of another rags-to-riches success story for the Spurs in the Popovich era.
“He was impressive. His defense is what got him on the court initially,” Spurs forward Richard Jefferson said. “He played great defense on Monta Ellis and he got the call against Jason Terry. Now he’s on the court.
“He’s starting to feel comfortable and starting to get his legs underneath him so now he’s able to hit some shots. He’s played great, without him who knows what our record would be these last three games.”
Since Ginobili went down against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Danny Green has found his minutes rise from 17 and 16 minutes in Minnesota and against Golden State, to 24 and 33 minutes against Dallas and tonight against Denver. Over that time he has been tasked with chasing rookie sensation Ricky Rubio, a scorching Monta Ellis, Jason Terry, and tonight found himself on everyone from Ty Lawson to Galinari, actually managing to stay in front of the former and bodying up the latter.
With each passing game Green has looked more comfortable, more confident, culminating in tonight’s offensive explosion–consisting of a variety of drives, floaters, and of course the corner three-pointers (3-for-4) that are a staple of the Spurs offense.
“[I’m feeling more confident] more and more each game. I know the system well from the beginning of last year and now I’m starting to feel comfortable with it,” Green said. “I’m just comfortable playing my game now, hopefully it will continue.”