“Danny shoot ball,” are the three words San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said are especially important when referencing his starting shooting guard Danny Green.
“If Danny has the ball,” said Popovich before the Spurs obliterated the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, “he should shoot it.”
“(It’s) basically what he’s done,” continued Popovich in his pregame media interview Monday on why Green has been significant 33 games into the Spurs’ 2012-2013 season.
“Danny Shoot Ball” is exactly what Green has been doing this season, whether the shots are going in or not. Green is averaging 10.2 points per game this season, one point more than last (9.1 points). He’s shooting 42% from three point land, but it’s the fact that he’s already made 68-of-163 three pointers that makes this start to the season important.
Green currently ranks 6th in 3-point field goals made and ranks 12th in attempted 3-point field goals among all NBA players. “Danny Shoot Ball” has also used his quicker release from the outside to break his career high in points (25), and he’s already set a season and career high in 3-point field goals made (7) twice just 33 games into this season. Back in November, he set a new career high for attempted 3-point field goals (10) as well.
Through 66 games last season, Green shot 44% from three while making 102-of-234 three pointers. He did struggle in the playoffs as he could only connect on 20-of-58 three pointers (35%), and his confidence looked so shocked that Popovich eventually had to take Green out of the starting lineup against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Spurs’ exit from the Western Conference Finals.
Popovich also discussed that immeasurable element that might have been Green’s weakness last year, his confidence, on Monday.
“But really, his confidence he has amassed shooting the three has served us well this year. He and Gary Neal kept us afloat when Stephen (Jackson) and Kawhi Leonard were out. So he used that time wisely.”
With Green improving his shooting, his defensive numbers have also begun to rise this season. Unlike Kawhi Leonard who is more of a shutdown 1-on-1 defender, Popovich says Green’s defensive contributions come from his instincts and anticipation of plays on the perimeter.
“On the other end of the court his defense is more intuitive than it is “Bruce Bowen-like.” He blocks shots from behind, sometimes we have him guard point guards. He’s pretty smart in what he does defensively.”
Green is doing just that this season. If you watch games, he’s usually getting steals through passing lanes or helping with blocks from the weak side. He’s averaging 1.1 steals per game (33 steals in 31 games) this season, whereas last season he averaged 0.9 steals per game (58 steals in 66 games). He’s blocking 0.7 shots per game this season (22 blocks in 31 games) which is matching his average last season of 0.7 blocks per game (46 blocks in 66 games).
If Green can maintain his confidence at a high level even on night’s when his shots aren’t going in, then there’s a good chance come playoff time (assuming the Spurs make it there), he’ll continue to start and play just as an important role on the team rather than finding himself on the bench as he did last season.
Danny Shoot Ball.