While the Los Angeles Lakers undeniably will be led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis in their pursuit of a championship, after the two superstars it could be argued that veteran wing Danny Green might be the team’s most important player in the playoffs.
Green has championship experience and two rings, including winning a title last season with the Toronto Raptors, so he is used to that big stage. In addition to being one of the Lakers’ best shooters, he is also one of the team’s primary perimeter defenders, particularly against bigger wings.
That is especially important with the L.A. Clippers being the Western Conference’s other top team led by Kawhi Leonard, whom Green was a teammate with for the last eight seasons, along with Paul George.
Green recently made an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” and spoke about guarding Leonard, noting that most superstars are unstoppable and you just have to contain them as best you can:
“It’s not just him that’s unstoppable. There’s a lot of guys in the league that you’re not going to stop. You can contain them, so the best bet — especially in the playoffs — is try to contain most teams’ All-Stars or the superstars, and limit the role players. So we do the best we can as a group, not just individually, to contain him and limit his touches as much as possible.
Green makes an important part about containing stars being a team effort. It isn’t just the on-ball defender who is important against someone like Leonard, it’s the help defenders and bigs down low who can make a major difference as well.
The Lakers will be reliant on those beyond Davis and James, and Green believes role players can be massive in the playoffs:
“I think the difference-makers in the playoffs is not [the stars], it’s the guys that step up and are the x-factors. You have two or three role players on each team that can change a series.”
For as good as James and Davis are, the Lakers won’t win a championship if others don’t step up. Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma as two-way wings, Alex Caruso as another defender and energy guy, and JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard as paint protectors and finishers will all be relied upon at some point.
No team knows more than the Lakers how important role players are. Derek Fisher and Robert Horry have highlights that will forever live in Lakers history and players such as Kurt Rambis and Michael Cooper were crucial to the team’s success in the ‘Showtime’ era.
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