The Los Angeles Lakers have their sights on big-time free agents this offseason. Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Goran Dragic will all be on the radar for a franchise looking to turn its fortunes around after back-to-back seasons on the wrong side of history.
Top-tier free agents could be hard to come by, however, especially for a team that is still putting together a nucleus it can win with. The Lakers will try to land the big fish — as they should — but may ultimately be resigned to scooping up players that are more complimentary than focal point. Either way, the team will be spending some money as they look to improve the roster.
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Even if the Lakers end up grabbing a franchise-changing star, they will need to add at least one high-level role player this summer. Two of the names that have been thrown around: DeMarre Carroll of the Atlanta Hawks and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Those players would solidify the Lakers’ efforts on the wing, but either would cost upwards of $50 million on long-term deals. Instead, the Lakers should be targeting Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs; a player who isn’t getting as much hype as Carroll and Middleton.
Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report predicts the Lakers will sign Green to a three-year, $36 million-dollar deal this summer:
"Green checks off all the boxes, and he has enough untapped upside that the Lakers could easily justify handing him a three-year, $36 million deal—just large enough that the Spurs would think twice about offering something similar, choosing instead to pursue other options."
While $12 million per year is the ceiling of what feels comfortable signing a role player like Danny Green, it may be necessary. Green is unlike any other player on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster; a defensive stopper that can space the floor with the best of them.
The Los Angeles Lakers Need Shooters
Trivia! Who is the last Los Angeles Laker to shoot at least 40 percent from three, with a minimum of 200 attempts from beyond the arc?
If you guessed Jodie Meeks, you are correct! The list of players to qualify is extremely short — there’s only five of them — and Meeks is by-far the highest in volume from the collection.
The Los Angeles Lakers are only one season removed from having a successful, high-volume shooter from three-point range, but the team’s history is not littered with such players.
Certainly, it’s a sign of how the league has become geared towards stretching the floor with long-distance shot — and the Lakers’ subtle resistance to follow suit.
Remember this guy?
Sasha Vujacic, “The Machine,” had an elite season from three-point-range during the Lakers’ Western Conference championship campaign in 2007-08, but even then he only took 270 shots from deep.
Last season? The Lakers’ best three-point shooter was Wayne Ellington, who took 243 threes, and converted at a 37 percent clip.
As a whole, the Lakers shot 1,546 three-pointers at 34.4 percent. The team ranked 25th and 18th in those categories, respectively, and were less than league average in both categories.
Danny Green is a sniper from three-point range. He shoots 42 percent from deep in his career, which includes a 41.8 percent mark last season — good for seventh-highest in the league.
Green’s 457 attempts from three were also the seventh-highest mark in the league, a product of how he has been used in the San Antonio Spurs’ offensive attack.
The Lakers wouldn’t be able to promise Green such a volume of shots, but they desperately need his ability as a spot-up shooter. With a slashing point guard in Jordan Clarkson, a paint-dweller in Julius Randle, and another potential force down low on the way in either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, getting someone to space the floor needs to be a priority this summer.
Grabbing Danny Green — a guy whose numbers would place him amongst the best three-point shooters in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers — would be a fantastic start at ensuring they have requisite spacing.
Building A Defensive Identity
Byron Scott wants to create a culture of defense? Look no further than Danny Green.
Green emerged as one of the more notable wing defenders in the league last season, though he was often overshadowed by Defensive Player of the Year winning teammate, Kawhi Leonard. The less-heralded Green finished with 18 points in the All-Defensive Team voting, but should be a candidate for that honor annually if he makes a habit of the performance he had last season.
At 6’6”, Danny Green can guard either wing position. He put up 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while spending the majority of his time at either the shooting guard or small forward for the San Antonio Spurs. His ability to reject shots, specifically for his position, is outstanding.
Danny Green’s ability to contribute steals and blocks is impressive, even if it’s not to the superhuman-level of his running mate on the wing. Counting stats can be misleading, however, regarding how well a player actually is at defense.
There’s no perfect stat to point to that will confirm a player is a great defender, but there are some advanced stats that can give a bit of a clearer picture. Green rates fairly well by most measures.
According to NBA Stats, Danny Green held opponents to 44.8 percent shooting on defended two-point field goal attempts. That number was actually better than Kawhi Leonard, and good enough for seventh-best in the NBA among guards who played at least 70 games.
Additionally, Green finished 16th in the league in Defensive Rating (100.5) and 18th in Defensive Win Shares (3.9).
The Lakers really need anybody who can play defense, but Danny Green could be their go-to defensive guy on the wing. That alone should help Byron Scott if he truly intends to create a culture of defense as he tries to turn this team around.
His tough defense — along with his sharp shooting — make Danny Green a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Lakers.
All statistical support provided by Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.
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