Last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Danny Green to a two-year, $30 million contract with the hope that he’d provide them the same reliable 3-point shooting and perimeter defense that made him such a valuable piece of the Toronto Raptors’ championship-winning team last season.
While the defense has been there all season, his 3-pointers have only recently started falling at the clip he’s used to. Through 68 appearances in the regular season, Green shot 36.7% from behind the arc while averaging 4.8 3-point attempts per game. That’s better than the league average (35.8%), but it’s nowhere near the 45.5% he shot during the 2018-19 season.
Green’s 3-point struggles carried into the first round, where he shot 34.6% from 3-point range, but he’s seen an uptick in production in the last three rounds, where he’s made 20 of his last 52 attempts. In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Green made a team-high three 3-pointers in eight attempts.
Green’s resurgence from behind the arc earned him the nickname “Playoff Danny” from his teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and as much as Green appreciates the nickname, he knows he can be better than he has been.
“I mean, I’m far from that,” Green said. “Far from where I know I want to be or where I should be, but I just try to do my job the best of my ability and be active, That starts at the defensive end of the floor and then making the game easier or for the guys around me. Offensively I know it’ll come, but of course I want to knock down shots and hopefully build rhythm. I’m finally starting to see the worm turn for me here, some games here and there.”
Green credits his teammates for picking up his slack when he was struggling, but he also appreciates the way they all stood by him during a time where he was heavily scrutinized for his performance on offense.
“They just told me to keep firing,” Green said. “They kept believing in me. They kept looking at me and expecting more. They kept expecting and wanting it to happen. They feel like, ‘oh, you’re going to hit five, you’re going to hit six.’ but hey didn’t put no pressure on me. They just encouraged me to stay positive, we’ve done the same for each other.
“There are only two guys that are great, and regardless if we have an off night or not — and we usually do have an off night if they do have an off night — they still do pretty well on this team. Everybody else outside of those two guys have had struggles finding rhythm, and we have all been there to help support each other mentally and emotionally.
“They’ve been the backbone, the foundation to everything I’ve done thus far this year, and they’ll continue to be that. Hopefully I continue to make them proud and hold up my end of the bargain and do my job.”
The Lakers might not have a clear-cut third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis on their roster, but they have a group of veteran players that support each other so that, on any given night, one of them can step up and be that third option on offense. They personify what it means to have a “third guy by committee.”
Again, chemistry might not be everything, but it’s worth a lot, especially at this stage of the season.