Draymond Green is a problem.
If you don’t know, or you don’t believe it, Draymond Green will make sure you do.
He’ll shout it in your ear after blocking your shot into the stands or finishing through you at the rim. Or he’ll inform you more subtly, by sticking his tongue out or flexing his muscles in your face.
As he says, it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence. And besides, you can talk trash when you consistently back it up on the floor.
The irony is, at this point, the resume speaks for itself:
Two titles. YUP.
Two-time All-Star. YUP
Two-time All-NBA. YUP
Three-time All-Defense. YUP
2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year. YUP.
Cleveland Cavaliers. NOPE.
By now, everyone knows what makes Dray special. He isn’t an elite shooter or scorer, like some of his Warrior teammates and a large portion of the Top 20 on this list. But his versatility is virtually unmatched in an NBA that is moving more and more towards “small ball” and position-less basketball each year.
Think about it. Isn’t every team currently searching for their own Draymond?
With KD in the mix, Green’s numbers slightly decreased in most statistically categories last season. He went from 14 points per game to 10.2, 9.5 rebounds to 7.9, and 7.4 assists to 7.0.
The numbers—in this case—do lie. Those drop-offs were not at all indicative of a diminished value.
Draymond was still Draymond, the heart and soul of a championship squad who played whatever role coach asked him to and unfailingly established the tone on defense. A lineup with Dray essentially at the five alongside Curry, Durant, Klay, and Iggy logged 224 minutes together and was +23. With Green on the floor, opponents posted a 102.4 offensive rating. With him off, that jumped to 107.4.
He led the team in assists for the second straight year and finished second in the entire League in steals (154), defensive rating (99.1), and defensive win shares (5.4). And while all triple-double pub went to Westbrook and Harden, Green still tallied five triple-doubles.
We can point to merely two reasons why he trickled from No. 16 to No. 19 on the #SLAMTop50.
One is efficiency. In 2015-16, Green’s field goal percentage (49 percent) was almost LeBron-esque. It plummeted sharply to 42 percent in 2016-17—a fine figure but not exactly what we have come to expect from Green. Likewise, his three-point percentage fell from 39 percent to 31 percent.
According to Basketball-Reference, Draymond was just 52 percent on lay-ups and 29 percent on jump shots. While the Warriors don’t rely on him for buckets, those percentages can (and knowing Dray’s work ethic, almost certainly will) get better.
The second reason has nothing to do with Green. Coming in at No. 19 is more a testament to the remarkable ascent of others and the absurd amount of superstars there are in today’s league than to a significant on-court decline.
In a recent interview, Draymond told ESPN that we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
“Eventually I will reach my ceiling, but I know I’m nowhere near that right now,” he said.
Maybe he will get there in 2017-18.
Either way, we’re looking forward to it.
2016: No. 16
2015: No. 29
2014: Not Ranked
2013: Not Ranked
Alex Squadron is a reporter for the NY Post. Follow him on Twitter @asquad510.
Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2017-18—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.
No. 50 – Dion Waiters
No. 49 – Ben Simmons
No. 48 – Brook Lopez
No. 47 — Harrison Barnes
No. 46 — Jrue Holiday
No. 45 — Lonzo Ball
No. 44 — Myles Turner
No. 43 — Goran Dragic
No. 42 — Andre Drummond
No. 41 — Al Horford
No. 40 — LaMarcus Aldridge
No. 39 — Kevin Love
No. 38 — Paul Millsap
No. 37 — Hassan Whiteside
No. 36 — Andrew Wiggins
No. 35 — Marc Gasol
No. 34 – DeAndre Jordan
No. 33 — Bradley Beal
No. 32 — Kemba Walker
No. 31 — CJ McCollum
No. 30 — Devin Booker
No. 29 — Nikola Jokic
No. 28 — Joel Embiid
No. 27 — Mike Conley
No. 26 — Kyle Lowry
No. 25 — Rudy Gobert
No. 24 — Gordon Hayward
No. 23 — Kristaps Porzingis
No. 22 — Carmelo Anthony
No. 21 — DeMar DeRozan
No. 20 — Blake Griffin