The Golden State Warriors are making strides defensively on the back of Draymond Green. Are the issues on that end finally solved?
The biggest question surrounding the Golden State Warriors was bench production and defense or more specifically rim protection.
The first month of the season those questions were justified because the Warriors sat middle of the pack in all defensive categories and looked to be a team searching for an identity on that end of the floor. All of the sudden Draymond Green took his defense to a new level and the Warriors are near the top defensively.
There were some who questioned how good Green would be without Andrew Bogut behind him. This was a logical question. Bogut was and is a top five rim protector in the NBA and Bogut’s injury in the NBA Finals was the biggest reason the Warriors lost.
Green was hearing all offseason how his game would suffer because of Kevin Durant and then a rough summer with Team USA had those whispers growing louder. Green did the best he could to block those out, but being an emotional guy it’s difficult for him to brush aside the criticism without firing back.
Despite all this criticism Green is in the midst of his best defensive season to date. Green is second behind Chris Paul in steals at 2.12 and ranks seventh in blocks at 1.76. The only other player who is in the top ten in both categories is Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo is 6’11” with a 7’3” wingspan while Green is 6’6” barefoot with a 7’1” wingspan.
Green has the best defensive plus minus in the NBA at 3.95 while sitting tenth in defensive win shares at 1.1. All these numbers illustrate the importance Green has on the Warriors defense.
The Warriors are a different defensive team than they were last season. They block shots and get steals instead of keeping teams out of the paint and contesting shots. Bogut and Zaza Pachulia are different players. Bogut is a shot blocker, while Pachulia is the more mobile perimeter defender who allows the Warriors to trap ball handlers.
Behind Greens defensive leadership the Warriors now sit eighth in defensive efficiency which shows the ascent the team has taken in the last two weeks.
Not only has Green been the NBA’s best and most versatile defensive player he’s been extremely clutch. Green has made clutch defensive plays against the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks to secure wins.
The Warriors need to continue focusing on the defensive end because they will not win a championship without playing defense. Offense wins games in the regular season, but come playoffs defense is what ultimately wins championships. The Warriors won’t be able to score 115 points consistently which means getting key stops when they need too.
Defense will always be a questions with the Warriors, but as long as Green is playing at the level he is currently the Warriors will remain one of the ten best defensive teams in the NBA which bodes well for winning an NBA Championship.