Green, who’s averaged nine points per game over the course of his 10-year career, has never been known to put up gaudy scoring numbers. In fact, last season Green only scored more than 20 points four times. His all-time high is nine times in a season.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday, though, as Green poured on a team-high 28 points on 71.4% shooting from the field, including 7 of 9 shooting from behind the arc. According to ESPN, Green’s 28 points are the most by any player in their Lakers debut. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held the previous all-time high with 27 points.
Green also got it done of the defensive end, grabbing seven rebounds and leading the team in steals. His defense on his former San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard was as good as anyone, too, although Green said it was just another day at the office for him.
“I’ve done it before, in practices. It felt strange doing it live, but it was a lot of fun,” Green said of guarding Leonard.
Overall, though, Green downplayed his performance and credited his teammates for finding him in his spots. He also said he “made a couple of lucky ones.” Green’s teammates, on the other hand, weren’t shy about praising him after his big night.
Following Tuesday’s game, James said the Lakers are set at the 2 spot with Green and his two-way play.
“He’s going to defend, he’s going to knock down shots. He’s a big time player, he’s a big time shooter and he’s a champion, so (we) never have to worry about if he’s gonna be there every night,” James said.
Green’s new head coach Frank Vogel believes having players like James around him is going to be beneficial to him as the season goes on.
“With the talent around him he’s going to get a lot of open looks, but he was also very aggressive in his action. We’re not just using him in the spot up in the corner, we’re bringing him off screens and he was very aggressive in transition and and using screens. He had a terrific night,” Vogel said.
To others on the team like Quinn Cook, Green is a symbol of hard work and perseverance. Green and Cook both worked their way up through the G League before earning call ups and winning championships with their respective teams.
“If I can have a career like Danny Green, that will have been the best, man. He’s a guy who I look up to. Undrafted, everything he’s done he’s earned,” Cook said. “A guy like that, that’s who I want to be like.”
Green might not go off for 28 points every night, but his 3-point shooting and defense are going to be invaluable to the Lakers this season. It’s like James said: As long as Green is on the floor, they never have to worry about the production from their starting shooting guard.