Moore: Danny Green Takes the Kawhi Leonard Trade from a Win to a Blowout for the Raptors

Jan 03, 2019 4:30 PM EST
Credit:

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green

  • The Toronto Raptors are the clear winners of the Kawhi Leonard trade with the San Antonio Spurs.
  • But one underrated aspect of the deal is Danny Green, who makes the disparity between the Raptors and Spurs even greater.

The Raptors won the Kawhi Leonard trade. Shocker, I know.

The Spurs continues to be competitive — because death, taxes and Spurs — but if you look at the return for both teams, it’s not even close. Leonard is out there dropping 45 and suffocating teams defensively while the Spurs are getting outscored with DeMar DeRozan on the floor.

The bright spot for the Spurs is Jakob Poeltl, who continues to prove that he’s a capable backup center on a rookie deal who is able to impact the game in multiple ways. But Poeltl is not a better player than DeRozan, and DeRozan is having a pretty typical DeRozan season — scoring more than 20 a game without shooting 3s and having his team play better when he’s not on the floor.

But the underrated part of the Leonard deal for the Raptors is Danny Green, and not just for his individual value, but for what he’s provided in the adjustment period for Leonard.

Green is maybe the best transition defender … ever. He’s a reliable floor spacer, shooting 41% from deep this season, and a smart player who fits in. What he’s provided the Raptors in this context (in addition to his overall play) is a sort of safety blanket for Leonard.

Having played alongside Leonard for so long, Green knows how to find him, where to find him and what passes Leonard is looking for.

For much of the early part of the season, while Leonard was getting adjusted to his new teammates, the Raptors essentially had two offenses going. Their typical offense, then a two-man game with Leonard and Green.

Consider this: Of the 85 assists Leonard has thrown this season, 16 have been thrown to Green — the second-most of any player.

There’s a natural chemistry there, and especially early in the season, you’d find Leonard looking for Green:

 

What’s more, with Green on the floor next to Leonard, the Raptors have a 117.8 offensive rating and outscore their opponents by a whopping 13.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s exceptional, stunning, a beatdown.

Without Green but with Leonard on the floor, Toronto scores just 97 points per 100 possessions and are outscored by 13.8. That’s crazy!

Even in a small sample, it’s wild how the presence of Green does that much for Toronto in Kawhi-centric lineups.

Green was mentioned on the trade block for years despite his contributions to the Spurs’ Finals runs in 2013 and 2014. He’s a low-maintenance personality who helps make everyone better and does the dirty work.

Green’s inclusion in the deal for Leonard might have been necessary to make the money work, but while losing Leonard will always be a sore spot for the Spurs, losing Green took something key away from San Antonio and gave Toronto a veteran wing who has provided comfort and familiarity for Leonard in their attempts to get him to re-sign this summer.

The Raptors won the Kawhi trade on the surface. But once you get under the hood, Green makes the disparity even greater.

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