Grizzlies

Can Green’s Championship Pedigree Elevate Memphis?

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There is something to be said about the importance of mentorship.

Having access to someone with the wisdom and experience in a specific field is a valuable asset because it allows the ones that come after them to avoid the same failures that the mentor has experienced.

Think Master Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Mister Miyagi from the Karate Kid.

Having a veteran presence in professional sports has become the single most important piece to creating championship teams. There have been many teams loaded with young talent that have gone on to achieve success at a high level, but it usually takes a formidable vet to put them over the hump.

For the first time in years, the Memphis Grizzlies—at least at this moment—have a mentor on their roster with years of playoff and championship experience that could help propel them to be a championship contender.

Danny Green was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night along with the 23rd overall pick for the rights to Memphis fan favorite De’Anthony Melton.

Going into his 14th year, Green finds himself on his fifth team in as many years after spending the majority of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. Green played a major part in the transition of the Spurs baton being passed from Tim Duncan to Kawhi Leonard.

Ironically, if he remains on the squad through the entirety of this coming season, Green could potentially play a major role in the transition of the Memphis Grizzlies going from the young, exciting team to watch each night to them eventually having a championship parade down Beale Street.

As previously stated, Green has bounced around the last few years, but it’s been for strictly business. The teams bringing him in acknowledge his timely clutch shooting performances and invaluable experience of winning multiple championships.

WELL, THAT’S UNFORTUNATE

The 2021-2022 season was not kind to Green. His minutes and points per game were both his lowest since his first season with Spurs when he only played 8 games.

He has not been the same defensive weapon he used to be. And although he played the majority of the season, it was obvious he was hampered by his nagging hip and hamstring injuries that he has battled over the last two years.

Unfortunately, he suffered another major injury in the playoffs when he tore both his ACL and LCL in the second round.

And as you get older, you notice that your body doesn’t heal as fast as it did at 18. However, Green stated on his podcast that he believes he will be back by the Allstar break of 2023.

So where does that leave things for him and the Grizzlies?

 

Although Green had a down year numbers-wise, his three-ball stayed relatively solid with him shooting 38% from deep for the season. And a more impressive stat is that since his second season in San Antonio—2011—his three-point percentage and his field goal percentage have hovered within three percent of each other.

This would lead one to assume that he is taking—and making—the majority of his shots per game from behind the three point line. If he can continue to shoot high in the high 30’s or above percentage-wise from that range then it continues to open the floor for All-NBA point guard Ja Morant.

But that’s just the physical improvement and assistance that Green can provide.

CHAMPIONSHIP PEDIGREE MATTERS

The main benefit that Danny Green bestows to this young Memphis Grizzlies team is a winning mentality and track record.

With him being the only player on this roster north of 30 years old and having the championship pedigree that he does, it forces last season’s most exciting team in basketball to listen and hold on to every word he says on and off the court.

He has played beside an NBA Hall of Fame big in Tim Duncan which allows him to give tips and advice to Jaren Jackson Jr. on ways to elevate his already league-dominating performance from last year.

He’s played next to a Finals MVP wing in Kawhi Leonard, so he can provide expertise to Desmond Bane to take his game to the next level.

He assisted one of the greatest players of all time—Lebron James—in capturing arguably the hardest NBA championship in history via the bubble. This allows him to give Ja Morant, now one of the faces of the NBA, first-hand accounts of what leading a franchise to a championship looks like.

If you ask Morant and Jackson what helped to shape the culture in Memphis to where it is now, they would both point to the veteran leadership of Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill during their tenure with the team back in the 2019-2020 season. Not only has Green been in the NBA longer than those two—his three championships with three different organizations grants him a perspective that not even those two impactful players possessed.

There has been speculation around whether or not Green will remain with the team through the end of the season. However, if the Grizzlies already traded an impact player to acquire Green and a draft pick, it’s hard to imagine the Grizzlies turning him loose unless the return is a massive value.

Another sign that Green more than likely will be with Memphis—at least until the trade deadline—is the fact that Green was spotted at the Las Vegas Summer League sitting and interacting with the team. Sitting amongst him was General Manager Zach Kleiman, Team Executive Tayshaun Prince, Coach Taylor Jenkins, and players Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, and Tyus Jones.

If the plans were for Green to stay away from the team and await a buyout or trade, he would not be engaged with the team in this manner.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?

Tearing two ligaments is nothing to bat an eye at.

The Grizzlies have a history of slow rolling players as they rehab injuries and pride themselves on not rushing a return to risk further injury. With Green setting the Allstar break as his personal goal to return, it wouldn’t be far-fetched that the Grizzlies front office would want to wait until they are 100% sure Green is healthy and able to make a real impact on the court before bringing him back. With their track record, an ideal timeline would look something like early to mid March, which would allow Green about a month’s time to get into game shape for the playoffs.

If he can continue his rate of fire from last season behind the three-point line, a 38% threat added to this highly talented Grizzlies team to space the floor would raise their ceiling significantly from last year.

His intangibles on and off the floor will surely pay dividends in the long run. And the most important factor in this scenario is the fact that he is on an expiring contract, which allows both he and the Grizzlies to walk away at season’s end if it doesn’t work out between the two.

Adding a healthy Green to a bench unit that already consists of Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke and Ziaire Williams can make this team dangerous.

Teams can’t leave Green open, which opens up so much more for other impact players on this team. And his previous history with Coach Taylor Jenkins only increases the value that he brings to this squad as a player-coach on the floor.

Having a player of Green’s caliber in late game situations can be crucial to preventing minor mistakes that young teams tend to make in big moments. And it’s always beneficial to have players that can make big shots when it counts.

For a player that is on the other side of the hill in his career and heavily accomplished already, Green’s mission in Memphis could be greater than points scored or other personal accolades. He could very well be the missing link to the NBA’s next small market championship team—solidifying his legacy to impact winning.

Yet another new face has a chance to find a home in Beale Street Blue.

Craving More Grizzlies?

Check out last week’s Deep Dive Piece on Brandon Clarke by Ian Sparks (@icsparks22), Clarke Still a Steal in Memphis. And be sure to check out the Grizz 901 Podcast, where the Grizz Lead guys get on to discuss these Deep Dive players and much, much more!

About Chris Ingram

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