76ers early-season reactions: should a key starter be moved to the bench?
While we’re currently only a mere five games into a long NBA season, it is time to open up some conversations about this 76ers squad that some fans might not enjoy. When looking at this team as a whole, a good portion of my issues lies with Danny Green.
Before deep-diving into solutions, let’s take a look at Danny Green’s start to the season. Yes, before anyone jumps on me, I understand this is a minimal sample size, but there are stark differences that deserve attention in Green’s game. Through his first five starts of the season, Danny is averaging 5.3 points per game while shooting at 36-percent from three.
His overall field goal percentage is only a tick higher at 38.5-percent because he made his lone shot from inside the arc. Yes, so far, Danny Green has only attempted one shot, not from three-point range of his 26 shots this season. Those numbers certainly cause concern.
It has become glaringly apparent that Danny Green is struggling to keep up with quicker guards and small forwards he’s matched up against on the defensive end. Of course, it doesn’t help that he routinely has to match up with quicker guards without Simmons on the court. However, this was an issue we began to see last year when Doc Rivers matched Green up against Trae Young during the playoffs.
However, Green does currently lead the 76ers this season with 11 steals through five games. The problem with taking Green out is that he still stands as one of the better defenders for the 76ers backcourt outside Matisse Thybulle, which speaks more to the 76ers overall issues with perimeter defending.
Danny Green has struggled mightily in an offense void of elite-level facilitation with Ben Simmons out, and his one-dimensional playstyle is on full display. Even if Green does begin to hit triples at a clip we expect of him, the 76ers need to give more minutes to guys who can create their shots until Simmons returns or is dealt for someone else that can facilitate.
Personally, I think the best strategy may revolve around seeing who can get hot on a game-to-game basis. You can keep Danny Green in the starting lineup, but take his minutes down from nearly 25 to 18 or 20. Inject Furkan Korkmaz into the game more to see if he can elevate his play.
While Korkmaz can certainly be streaky, he averages nearly 6 points more a game off the bench than Danny Green. When he’s on, he can shoot the lights out as he did in his season-high 22-point outing against the Pelicans.
Another option could see George Niang slide into the early rotations more and have Tobias Harris play bigger from the three. Niang has quickly shown himself to not only be the most reliable three-point shooter on the team knocking down 12 of his 22 triples through five games, but one of the 76ers best defenders.
Harris’ size and length may prove more useful against smaller forwards on the perimeter, and Harris can play inside offensively. At the same time, Niang stretches the court in a much similar fashion to Danny Green offensively.
While I do believe Danny Green will boost his numbers back out of this slump, if the 76ers are going to operate without Ben Simmons for a while or rest of the season while he deals with mental health and back issues, it might be time to lower Green’s time on the court.
It is early in the season, but in those five games, Green has looked like the odd man out in the starting lineup, and his defense isn’t enough to realistically bail him out going forward. The regular season is all about making adjustments, and while Doc Rivers can’t be trusted to do any of that, I can at least write about my ideas for the Liberty Line faithful.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu.