We’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on September 28.
Contract status: Under contract for two years, $20 million
Danny Green helps teams win. Even as he gets into his mid thirties, wherever he goes, you can count on it. As cliche and tiresome as the “good vet” label usually is in sports, it does actually apply in the case of Danny Green. Combine his reliable play at both ends of the floor with his leadership qualities, and it’s a label that suits him well.
The Sixers found that out for themselves last season. Green averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks in his 28 minutes per game. His basic box score numbers don’t matter too much, though. Green’s shooting was at the heart of his impact in Philly last season, as he shot 40.5 percent from three on a team-high (and career-high) 6.3 attempts per game.
Besides the impressive efficiency, Green brought an array of skills to the table that the Sixers needed more of. He has a quick trigger and won’t hesitate to fire when defenders are closing out, launches shots at a high volume, and knows how to find space off the ball. His signature “Danny Green Cut” in particular helped. He excels cutting along the baseline, whether he’s calmly slipping past defenders when they lose sight of him, or faking opponents one way before reversing his cut.
Green simply knows how to find openings in a defense and make opponents pay when he gets there. Given how crucial it is to surround Joel Embiid with guys who know how to move around him and shoot immediately when the big fella kicks the ball out against double teams, this makes Green an even better fit. And as a smart ball mover when swinging passes around the arc or making accurate entry passes, Green does a lot to help keep the offense humming.
At 34 years old, Green obviously isn’t the defender he once was in his physical prime. Quicker players can give him trouble on the ball and he can struggle covering fast off-ball movers around screens. That said, he’s still a positive contributor on defense overall. He has good size and length at 6’6”, he uses his high IQ to be in the right spots and rotate and help effectively off the ball, he’s still a terrific transition defender (as he has been for many years), and he generates a fair amount of steals by breaking up passing lanes or poking the ball away from ball-handlers.
When the Sixers were shorthanded due to injuries or COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Green’s confidence as a shooter would stand out the most (this resulted in a few three-point attempts that were... questionable, but for the most part it’s a clear positive). Take the last two weeks of March. As the Sixers were depleted and missing Embiid due to a left knee bone bruise, Green gunned away just like Philly needed him to. In a six-game stretch, Green averaged 17.2 points and attempted 9 threes a night, making them at a 53.7 percent clip. Quick-trigger, high-volume shooting is so valuable, and the Sixers didn’t have nearly enough of it before Green (and Seth Curry) arrived.
The Sixers always appreciated Green’s role off the court as well. Whether he was keeping the team composed during timeouts or giving defensive pointers to young players like Matisse Thybulle, Green’s leadership and IQ was a welcome addition to the team.
And while Green’s presence may not have been enough to turn the tide of the Sixers’ second-round playoff collapse against Atlanta, it certainly would have helped them a lot to have another healthy two-way wing they could count on (especially when it came to the Hawks’ wings like Kevin Huerter attacking Seth Curry).
Keeping Green in free agency this year was highly important. Beyond all the reasons mentioned above, the Sixers having minimal cap flexibility to find a decent replacement elsewhere on the market made re-signing Green using his early Bird rights even more of a priority. For a while it looked like there was a strong chance he’d leave, but now that he’s back (and for a fair price), the Sixers can feel secure about their starting small forward spot.
Season outlook: With a $10 million salary, Green has the kind of contract that could be useful for matching salaries in trades. He’s also the kind of player that most teams (young or contending) would appreciate — he’s a two-way role player who can easily fit in, a positive locker room presence, and isn’t owed long-term money with only two years on his deal. However, for those reasons and the fact that the Sixers shouldn’t need to be adding value or salary to Ben Simmons in any looming trades, it feels like Green should be staying put.
In the coming years, Green will gradually show his age more. But for now, he’s cemented himself as a key part of the rotation and someone who complements Embiid perfectly on offense. He does what the Sixers need him to, and his role as starting small forward shouldn’t be changing.
“He’s been with some really good teams all the way through college, and he finds himself on winning teams and I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” Doc Rivers said last season when talking about what Green offers. “I think that’s part of who he is and what he gives the team, on the floor and in the locker room.”