UNC Basketball: Danny Green a key for San Antonio


If you would have told me that Danny Green will likely be the most successful NBA player from the 2009 National Championship team, I would have called you crazy.

But five years later, that statement is true.

Green played on a Tar Heel team that had Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Ed Davis and other key role players. Players that were all expected to at least be valuable to some NBA teams.

Heck, besides his monster dunk on Dukes Greg Paulus, Green was noted for his smooth dance moves before games.

It was a draft class that was one of the best out of Carolina at the time, but has started to fade away. Aside from Green, Lawson is really the only other Tar Heel from that class that is really having a major impact on the NBA.

I’m not here to bash that Tar Heel team, but that class hasn’t really lived up to expectations of many Tar Heel fans.

Hansbrough shined at North Carolina and was supposed to at least be a good role player in the NBA. Now in five NBA seasons, Hansbrough has played for two teams and hasn’t found the right fit for him yet. He’s averaging 8.1 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game in his career. Not what many Tar Heel fans expected.

There’s still hope for Hansbrough though who is currently with the Toronto Raptors. A team that looked pretty good in the NBA Playoffs before falling to the Brooklyn Nets. Will Hansbrough ever be a really good NBA player? No, and that’s fine. He just needs to fit in.

Green on the other hand has fit right in with his role on the San Antonio Spurs, who appearing in back-to-back NBA Finals, and if not for a late-game implosion would have won last season.

The Cavaliers took Green in the second round at number 46 overall, a pick that has turned into great value now for the Spurs. But who saw it coming? A guy coming off the bench from North Carolina, being a key piece to a NBA team for consecutive seasons? Not me.

His time in Cleveland was short and just wasn’t right for Green. He got to play alongside the best player on the planet in LeBron James, but he never really played. He played just 5.8 minutes per game in his rookie year. Those minutes have increased every season since then, with the exception of his 24.3 minutes this season. That’s down from 27.5 he averaged last year with the Spurs.

Green fits in well with the Spurs because he brings a whole new element to the team and is perfect for their offensive system. He does exactly what Gregg Popovich wants him to do.

A 6-foot-6 shooting guard with a nice touch and can spot up and drain threes is exactly what the Spurs need from Green off the bench. So far, Green has delivered.

In the 2013 NBA Finals, Green really made a name for himself.

Green averaged 14 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in the seven game series. He also broke Ray Allen’s record for most three pointers in an NBA Finals series with 23. It took Green just five games to do it. He was a player the Heat couldn’t lock down and he made them pay.

It was Greens coming out party of some sort.

So far, Green’s success last season has carried over into this postseason and NBA Finals. Well at least in Game 1 it did. He scored 13 points and finished with three 3-pointers, including two down the stretch to help the Spurs come back and win.

Green’s role with the Spurs is key and he could be one of the biggest difference makers in the series for the Spurs. So while everyone focuses on San Antonio’s ‘Big 3’ of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (rightfully so), pay attention to San Antonio’s other key player.

That’s right, Dance Danny Dance.