It’s hard to believe that it’s already been eight years since the then-25-year-old shooting guard from North Carolina all but stole the show during the 2013 Finals, nearly spearheading an upset series victory for the San Antonio Spurs over the Miami Heat. Multiple current and future Hall-of-Famers in LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Manu Ginobili, Chris Bosh, Tony Parker and even second-year Kawhi Leonard all graced the court during those seven games, yet Green was often the biggest star of the show.
Strangely, whereas breakout series stars usually find success through off-the-dribble juice and flashy moves that lead to tough buckets in tough scenarios, Green did most of his damage without dribbling the basketball. He drained a then-record 27 threes in seven games (which has since been broken by Steph Curry, who hit 32 threes during the 2016 Finals), and through the first five games, had hit 25 of his first 38 attempts from deep. And perhaps most notably, he hit so many of those 27 using a cut so unusual and unique that it got coined the “Danny Green Cut” that we all know and love.
Working on some stuff and found these two absolutely beautiful Danny Green Cuts from back in the 2013 Finals. pic.twitter.com/UIrS9eQ1Xk— Daniel Olinger (@dan_olinger) May 10, 2021
That cut, during which Green slowly jogs along the baseline, usually toward the strong side of the court to fill the corner, was burning the Heat back then and has dusted many a foe in this 72-game season.
Last week, Liberty Ballers’ own Jackson Frank had me on his weekly Locker Room live show to talk about the Sixers. One thing we mentioned was how on attempts where a defender closed out on Green and forced him to give a pump fake, he must be shooting an absolutely wretched percentage (largely due to how he’s unable to use an escape dribble and side-step, instead leaning to one direction and flinging a hopeless prayer).
However, we then moved on to talk about how the veteran shooting guard has counteracted his inefficiency on said shots by going absolutely scorched earth on “Danny Green Cut” threes. Which got me thinking — just how well has Green been converting on his trademark shot during his first season in Philadelphia.
Well, 423 3-point attempts watched and subjectively quantified later, these are the results that I tabulated.
Danny Green on “Normal” Threes
Danny Green on “Danny Green Cut” Threes
The likely expected error term in my tallying be damned, that’s a pretty stark difference in percentages. Green acting like a somewhat normal floor spacing guard and launching standard 3s — he’s a fine if not spectacular marksman. That 38.1 percent from 3 in fact grades out at 64th percentile overall according to Cleaning the Glass. But let him fire off those 3s during which he slides backward into the corner behind an unwitting defense, and he becomes one of the most deadly snipers in the entire league.
My favorite thing to watch in these clips is the man tasked with checking Green realize his own failure, as they see the Sixers’ sharpshooter catch the ball wide open in his favorite corners on the other side of the court despite seemingly exiting the play ages ago.
The layer Green has added on top of his cut and factored into my calculations was the fake-and-moonwalk 3, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe termed it weeks ago. For a guy who possesses below average athleticism compared to his NBA peers, Green has juked out a lot of dudes on a consistent basis this season. He fools his man by appearing to start his slow trudge toward the opposite corner, and they are so terrified by both Green’s shooting and the Sixers’ stars operating their actions right in front of them, that they go through the motion of clearing out with Green only to realize that he’s relocated to the exact same corner.
Everything about Danny Green is weird, including how he makes such superior athletes look silly on these cuts. Donte DiVincenzo is an above average defender for a great team, yet that clip I inserted in the compilation above of him getting snatched by Green was just one of three clips during that game against Milwaukee where he feel for the fake-and-moonwalk 3.
The experience with the man San Antonio fans termed “Icy-Hot” long ago has turned from solid but frustratingly up-and-down early in the year, to just all-out great toward the end of this season. Just a few months ago, he started a subpar 20-for-60 from deep through his first 11 games and there was some worry in the air. Then he went 9-for-21 on 3s in the memorable overtime victory over the Heat during the Covid protocols stretch, has shot 41.3 percent overall from 3 since, and most importantly, has torched teams with the cut that made him a household name back when Vine was just a few months old itself.
According to Basketball Reference, Green ranks 14th all-time in career playoff 3s made, sitting behind 11 current and/or guaranteed future Hall-of-Famers, as well as Derek Fisher and J.R. Smith. With the postseason soon starting for Philadelphia, Sixers fans will be hoping that Green keeps his championship-winning streak alive, moving up that leaderboard along the way.
If both those things happen, there’s a good chance the “Danny Green Cut” will leave a lot of foes shaking their heads all playoffs long.