Draymond Green is the reason the Golden State Warriors are so damn good, but doesn’t get much love due to his lack of bulk scoring.
Everybody loves a bucket-getter. There’s something innately exciting about watching the Golden State Warriors because they have so many players who can just go out and get buckets.
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are both capable of pulling up from just about anywhere and sinking a shot over just about anybody. Klay Thompson has the ability to go unconscious and just start nailing any shot he wants to take.
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Even outside of those three, the Dubs have exciting offensive playmakers. JaVale McGee has finished some incredible lobs this season. Shaun Livingston posting up a smaller guard and sinking a fadeaway is the most dependable thing outside of the basketball factory in San Antonio.
Ian Clark sometimes plays like a long-lost Splash Cousin.
Draymond Green has yet to be mentioned. Draymond is not the most exciting guy around on offense. He scores 10.7 points per game, fourth on the Warriors, and less than he managed last year.
In terms of points scored per 36 minutes, Draymond comes in eighth, behind every player mentioned thus far aside from Livingston, who scores just 0.5 points less per 36 than Draymond does.
Individual Warriors have scored 20 or more points 118 times this season. Durant has put up that many points 44 times, and Curry has 40 such games. Thompson has posted at least 20 points 29 times this season.
Clark comes in fourth among Warriors with three 20 point games. Draymond Green has managed that particular feat just twice all season. On maybe the best offensive team ever, Green can’t compare to Durant or Curry in terms of raw scoring. That’s just not who he is.
Luckily for the Warriors, that’s not who they need him to be. This team clearly has no shortage of scorers. What Golden State does lack, outside of Green, are players who can do the other stuff.
Nov 21, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) blocks the shot of Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey (2) in the first half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Golden State beat Indiana 120-83. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
The NBA’s Most Versatile Defender
Defense is most associated with Draymond, and rightly so. He’s the best defensive player on the Dubs, which is no easy feat considering Kevin Durant is having an incredible defensive season.
Players Draymond has guarded have shot 60.5 percent from within six feet of the rim when they haven’t gone against him. When Green is defending them in that range, opponents make just 48.7 percent of their shots.
That’s fifth among all players to qualify (the differential between the percentages is where he’s fourth among players.)
At 6’7″, Green is the size of an NBA shooting guard in terms of pure height. Three things allow him to defend anybody in the league: his wingspan, his weight and his intelligence. Draymond’s arms measure longer than 7’1″, according to DraftExpress.
His listed weight this season is closer to Durant than it is Thompson, although true big men still outweigh him.
Instincts and intelligence tend to make up for that difference. Willie Cauley-Stein is huge, but Draymond quickly positions himself between the Sacramento Kings center and the rim and uses those huge arms to prevent an easy bucket here.
Green is such a good defender because he can handle both big men and point guards. Kemba Walker has been incredible this season, but Green bottles him up after a switched pick-and-roll and again relies on his wingspan to nullify a shot.
It’s ridiculous he can be just as effective defending a point guard taking a three-point attempt as he is handling a center within a few feet of the rim, but that’s the Draymond Green effect.
The Warriors are a vastly better defensive team with Green on the court.
Only Zaza Pachulia being on the floor causes the Dubs to allow less points per 100 possessions than Green’s presence does, and that’s likely explained by 707 of Pachulia’s 826 minutes coming with Draymond also on the floor.
In 1,632 minutes with Green on the court, the Warriors have allowed just 99.8 points per 100 possessions. Forget this season–that’s the ninth-best mark that any team’s allowed in the past decade. With Draymond Green on the floor, the Warriors are literally one of the best defensive teams the NBA has seen in the last ten years.
The Dubs would still be the seventh-best defense this season without Green, and they’re sixth in offensive rating without him too. Golden State would be good without Draymond Green, that much is obvious. They’re not historically good without him though.
Feb 4, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Point Draymond Is Hard To Handle
Draymond is the difference between the Warriors being good and the Warriors being the best team the NBA has seen in a very long time. In addition to his defense propelling Golden State to historic numbers on that end, Draymond adds a lot offensively as well.
His floor-spacing is useful, even if he doesn’t take a ton of threes. Defenses have to account for him at all times, because he will drain open threes.
When teams forget about him, suddenly he’s got the ball with miles of open acreage around him. Green hits 37.5 percent of his triples when he’s that open, which isn’t mind-boggling but it is good enough to make teams pay for leaving him alone.
Draymond’s passing ability is just as important as his shooting, if not more so. It’s Green, not Curry or Durant, who leads the Warriors in assists per game. He also leads the team in steals per game, is tied for first in rebounds per game and is second among Warriors in blocks per game.
Green’s passing stands out though, because he’s just as likely to take the ball up the floor as Curry or Durant is. Many of Draymond’s passes aren’t incredibly flashy, but they don’t need to be.
With defenses having to (attempt to) contain some or all of Curry, Durant and Thompson off of the ball, Green needs only to make a smart pass to the most open of the three.
Obviously the defense can’t just ignore Draymond when he’s got the ball–he’s not going to score 25 points every night, but he’ll get to the rim if there’s room to do so. That takes one defender out of the play already, leaving four to attempt to hang with the litany of shooters the Warriors have.
It’s sort-of possible to leave Green by himself in the corner. His three-point percentages aren’t great when he’s not wide open, so all defenses have to do is get close enough to contest his threes to make them inefficient shots, by Warriors standards at least.
When Draymond has the ball in his hands, none of that matters anymore. He does more than bring the ball up and make the right pass on offense, though. Steve Kerr has started to experiment with some funky pick-and-rolls.
Alley-oops are certainly exciting, but the lob from Draymond there is pretty simple. The ability to set a screen, roll off of it, spin and take off down the floor while catching the ball and then instantly making the right call on the pass is not so simple.
The Warriors run the fewest pick-and-rolls in the NBA and typically aren’t actually that good as roll men, but any play that gives Draymond Green space to operate with the basketball is an intriguing one.
Feb 4, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during overtime against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Kings defeated the Warriors 109-106 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t Forget About Dray
Green is controversial. He’s been called a dirty player, often along with some other descriptors that aren’t quite proper enough to be repeated here. He’s had scandals that stretch from kicking to Snapchatting.
He’s also the reason the Golden State Warriors have a combined record of 184-32 over their last three seasons. Love him or hate him, there’s no way to deny how important Draymond Green is to his Warriors, even without posting dozens of points on a nightly basis.