Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan headlined this summer's blockbuster trade between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs, but they weren't the only players involved. The Raptors also acquired Danny Green in the deal in exchange for Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
In his eight seasons with the Spurs, Green developed into a valuable two-way player on one of the most dominant teams in the league. While he took a step back last season, he's only a year removed from making 37.9 percent of his 3-point attempts and being named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team.
Whether it's as a starter or as a member of the second unit that shredded teams last season, Green should be a welcomed addition to a Raptors team hoping to make a run at the NBA Finals.
As a 6-foot-6 guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Green often shared the responsibility of matching up with the opponent's best perimeter player with Leonard during his time in San Antonio. It resulted in him guarding some of the biggest names in the league, from Russell Westbrook and James Harden to LeBron James and Kevin Durant .
The Raptors might ask Green to do the same in Toronto, though they'll have the option of using him as a free safety by putting him on a weaker scorer when he shares the floor with Leonard and/or OG Anunoby.
It's a role that would suit the 31-year-old well at this stage of his career. Not only has he led the league in blocks at his position for five consecutive seasons , Green is comfortable switching onto players both bigger and smaller than him when needed.
This might be the most impressive part. Pressures DeRozan in the backcourt, switches onto Wright, protects the rim, blocks DeRozan's 3PA. pic.twitter.com/ifKRe40kdw- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) October 24, 2017
The combination of Green, Leonard, Anunoby and Kyle Lowry, plus one of Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright, should make for a dynamic defensive unit capable of matching up with the best offenses in the league. Other than Lowry and VanVleet, they're each plus-sized defenders who can guard out of their position.
The Raptors already had an elite defense before the trade, so they should only improve by replacing DeRozan and Poeltl with the defensive-minded Leonard and Green.
Most of those players are confident 3-point shooters as well, giving Raptors head coach Nick Nurse the choice of rolling out lineups that can play 5-out on offense and switch everything on defense. Green's consistency from long range has fluctuated over the past five seasons, but he's an average shooter at worst and a knockdown shooter at best.
There isn't much risk involved on the Green side of the deal for the Raptors. The only wing they sacrificed in the trade is DeRozan, and they replaced him someone who is a more complete player on both ends of the court - assuming, of course, that Leonard can return to full health.
If Green has another strong season, he'll add to Toronto's depth in the backcourt and give them a veteran they can rely on in the regular and postseason. If last season was the first of a gradual decline, the franchise can let him walk at the season's end when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
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