Why Danny Green should start at shooting guard for the Toronto Raptors

San Antonio Spurs - Danny Green (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs - Danny Green (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

One of the newest additions to the Toronto Raptors this year, Danny Green should be instantly inserted into the starting lineup.

On July 18th, the Toronto Raptors struck a deal to acquire not only multiple-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard, but also defensive specialist and San Antonio Spurs’ starting two-guard, Danny Green.

Last season, the Raptors trotted out a lineup that had team mainstay DeMar DeRozan starting at shooting guard for nearly every game. In 80 of the team’s 82 matchups, DeRozan was a starter, offering the team a scoring punch, with a defensive effort that lacked the same effectiveness.

With the subtraction of DeRozan, the team is now forced to adjust their starting lineup.

Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby all figure to be starters under newly-minted coach Nick Nurse. Lowry will start in every game that he is healthy, similar to his past five seasons with the team. The same goes for the aforementioned Leonard.

Anunoby, going into his second year, deserves to be the starter at the other forward spot.

Anunoby was a presence in the Raptors’ most played lineup last year, a lineup that produced a 101.7 defensive rating, a mark that would rank third-best in the NBA.

Anunoby also possesses the ability to switch on defense. Switching has become more important than ever before and it doesn’t appear that trend is slowing down.

With Lowry, Leonard, and Anunoby all securing spots, Toronto still lacks a shooting guard. That position should be filled by Danny Green.

Green would have the ability to contribute on the outside in Nurse’s spread-out offense, while contributing considerably on the defensive end.

Though his defensive rating has gotten gradually worse in recent years, it still stands to largely improve over DeRozan’s career mark of 110. Green has never recorded a mark that high in a single season.

The offensive downgrade, though stout between DeRozan and Green, is offset by the increased output from forwards that the Raptors will get with the addition of Leonard.

Last year, the Raptors received under 20 points per game from Anunoby and Ibaka combined, a number that the former All-NBA selection Leonard figures to exceed by himself, with Anunoby’s production at the other forward spot serving as gravy.

The lineup also fits the coaching style of Nurse with an ability to spread the floor as at least four-fifths of the lineup would have the ability to shoot from outside at a highly efficient clip.

Another wrinkle to Green entering the starting lineup is the ability to hand Fred VanVleet more minutes.

With Green starting, the Raptors can hold him to around 23 minutes a night, just under his career average. With the decrease from DeRozan’s career mark of 34 minutes, to Green’s 23, the Raptors would be afforded the opportunity to increase VanVleet from his second-year average of 20 minutes per game to around 25.

The ability to allow VanVleet to mesh with the other starters, along with the ability to lead the bench mob would allow the Raptors’ production to increase in multiple areas.

Though the Raptors could opt to insert Leonard at the other backcourt spot, leaving both Ibaka and Valanciunas in the lineup, the addition of Green would serve to make the Raptors more efficient on both ends of the court.

Next. Predicting the Raptors starting lineup next season. dark

More efficiency and more minutes for VanVleet to develop seems like a boon for the Raptors’ contending chances.