After missing out on Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers made Danny Green the centerpiece of their free agency, signing him to a two-year, $30 million deal. While Green wasn’t “Plan A,” his outside shooting complements the considerable talents of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a way that will force opposing defenses to make difficult decisions.
LeBron still puts more pressure on the front of the rim than all but a select few players in the NBA, despite his considerable mileage, due to his size and mastery of simple moves and counter-moves off of the dribble. The construction of the 2018-19 Lakers hindered that ability, as defenses would collapse into the paint, daring him to kick the ball out to shooters that they didn’t respect.
When LeBron does have room to drive to the basket, the defensive big is usually the player responsible for stepping up and walling off his attack, giving LeBron a drive and dish opportunity. Anthony Davis stands to benefit from these situations. Davis’s great hands allow him to catch passes like these in close quarters. Davis further provides the Lakers with a credible stretch big man, which will in turn lead to LeBron having more offensive space to operate. This leaves the weak side shooter wide open, and LeBron is the best who’s ever played at getting the ball to weak side shooters.
Enter Danny Green. Receiving a kick out pass in the corner is one of Danny Green’s sweet spots for making 3-pointers. Green also hits the 3-pointer at a high clip off of pull-ups, so he’s a threat in these situations even if he receives the outlet pass. Green’s very real threat of hitting 3-pointers will open the floor for LeBron and Davis.
Green’s presence will keep guys attached to him instead of helping on LeBron or Davis, giving LeBron and Davis more opportunities to get to the rim. Last season, LeBron had fewer driving opportunities in half court situations because of how teams defended him. Defenses would often help from one pass away, limiting driving lanes and daring LeBron to kick it out to ineffectual 3-point shooters. This was true on the weak side as well, where defenders were often at least one step closer to LeBron than they would have been if the Lakers had good shooters. Green will make defenses pay for defending LeBron this way.
Danny Green may not have been the third star that the Lakers hoped for, but the primary skill that he brings to the table will allow him to fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a way that may allow the whole be greater than the sum of its parts.