Danny Green and Gary Neal scored 51 combined points on 13-for-19 shooting from 3-point range in Game 3 last night.
Two role players single-handedly winning an NBA Finals is remarkable. But it’s even crazier when you consider Green and Neal’s career arcs.
As recently as 2010, both Green and Neal were out of the league.
Neal went undrafted when he graduated from Towson in 2007. He bounced around Europe for years, playing in Turkey, Spain, Italy, and then Spain again.
In June of 2010, he was averaging 12 points per game for Unicaja Malaga. He signed with San Antonio a month later.
While Green never had to go over to Europe, he toiled away at of the bottom of the NBA for years. He was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2009, but only appeared in 20 games.
He has played for three different teams in the D-League — basically the minor leagues of pro basketball.
In the fall of 2010, he was cut twice by two different teams. The Cavaliers waived him in October. After being out of work for a month, San Antonio picked him up. But they too cut him less than a week later.
It wasn’t until March of 2011 that he joined the Spurs for good. And he didn’t see his first extended stretch of NBA action until last year.
San Antonio is probably the best-run franchise in the NBA, and they’re great at finding low-salary role players who the rest of the league disregards. They’re playing Kawhi Leonard, Green, and Neal (the three best players on the court last night) a combined $6.3 million this year — about a third of what LeBron makes.
Green and Neal are proof that you should never give up on a hardworking shooter.
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