As the dust settles from the Toronto Raptors' first championship, we're rolling out our Raptors Report Cards on each key member of the team from this past season. Before turning the page into the 2019-20 season as free agency begins, we'll take a closer look back at how everyone performed in 2018-19.
Prior to the playoffs, I wrote about whether or not Danny Green had been the most valuable role player in the league this season. His limitations as a player have always been clear, but the argument for him was built around how important the two things he does well are to a title contending team like the Toronto Raptors.
It starts with his 3-point shooting. Green was better than ever in that regard this season, knocking down 2.5 3-pointers per game at a 45.5% clip. The former helped him made a career-high 198 3-pointers while the latter was both a career-high and the second-highest mark in the entire league, trailing only Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris.
Putting a dead-eye shooter next to Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam helped the Raptors become one of the most dominant offensive teams in the NBA. According to NBA.com, Toronto scored at a rate of 116.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the court during the regular season, giving him the third-best offensive rating in the league. With him on the bench, that number took a massive hit, all the way down to 102.6 points per 100 possessions.
That differential of 14.2 points per 100 possessions represented one of the largest in the entire league. For context, Green was competing with the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard for the best net rating on that end of the court.
The on/off numbers can be misleading at times, but it's not a surprise that the Raptors were significantly better offensively with Green in the lineup. He is someone teams have to be wary of at all times - more so this season than ever before with the way he was shooting the ball - and he fit into Nick Nurse's system perfectly. The biggest change Nurse made stylistically in his first season as head coach was getting the Raptors to play with more pace, to which Green responded by more than doubling his scoring output in transition when compared to his final season with the San Antonio Spurs.
Additionally, Green knows his limitations on offence, so he never stepped on the toes of Lowry, Leonard and Siakam.
REPORT CARDS: Leonard | Siakam | Ibaka | Nurse
Green was just as valuable to the Raptors on defence. He just missed out on making an All-NBA Defensive Team for the second time in his career, as he received the most votes among players who didn't make it.
Green often drew the assignment of guarding the opposing team's best perimeter player. In the playoffs, that meant defending Jimmy Butler and alternating between Curry and Klay Thompson in The Finals.
Having someone who can guard all three positions in the backcourt is a huge asset to teams in today's NBA because it allows them to mix-and-match depending on the matchups. As was the case when he was with the San Antonio Spurs, Green was a big reason why the Raptors were one of the best defensive teams in the league this season - they had the fifth-best defensive rating in the regular season and the fourth-best in the playoffs.
The only knock on Green's play this season was that he struggled offensively in the playoffs, averaging 6.9 points per game on 32.8% shooting from the 3-point line. He still had some big games - none bigger than the 18 points he scored on 6-for-10 shooting from the perimeter in Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors - but the consistently wasn't quite there, especially when compared to what he did during the regular season.
Green also had a costly turnover in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the Finals that gave the Warriors one more chance to win the game. Fortunately for him and the Raptors, Curry's shot didn't fall.
Even so, the Raptors were a much better team with Green on the court throughout the playoffs. With the impact he made on both ends all season long, seeing him walk in free agency would be a huge loss for them.
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