In the same season in which he posted some record-breaking numbers and enjoyed the best year of his young career, Draymond Green simultaneously became one of the most polarizing figures in the League. The good and the ugly unavoidably collided. And then Kevin Durant happened. And that’s where it gets interesting.
Drafted in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Green epitomizes that “against-the-odds” story of players who went from non-guaranteed contracts to reaching All-Star status.
For the 2015-16 campaign, Green became the first player in NBA history to reach over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals within the same season. Although steals and blocks didn’t start being officially tallied by the League until 1973-74 (and so it’s fair to imagine the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson probably did reach this exclusive mark), it’s nonetheless impressive (and a little shocking, actually) that no other player in the NBA has reached such numbers in the past 40 years, at bare minimum.
With career highs in overall field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, points, rebounds, assists and blocks, the 6-7 wing was completely locked-in last season.
A regular-season stat line of 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists (huge increase from 3.7 the previous season), 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game had many drawing Big O comparisons—the only NBA player to ever average a triple-double in a season (1961-62). During the postseason, Green led the Warriors in every aforementioned statistical category except for points.
In November, he became the first Warriors player to post back-to-back triple-doubles on consecutive games since Wilt the Stilt in 1964. And then in January he became the second player in franchise history to finish with three consecutive triple-doubles.
The former Michigan State forward piled up 13 triple-doubles—only Russell Westbrook had more (who tied Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the past 30 years with 18).
And while Green is certainly no Oscar Robertson, the numbers do speak for themselves.
But yet not everyone is really feeling Green these days. And a lot of that he brought upon himself.
After his spectacular regular season, in which he earned his first All-Star selection, Green began garnering a perception for being a dirty player—particularly with the genital-smashing spree he went on during the Playoffs. There was the kick to the groin of OKC’s Steve Adams during the Western Conference finals, after giving him a knee to the same area just the previous game. And then there was what appeared to be an elbow to LeBron James’ groin during Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
The latter incident would add up to his fourth flagrant foul of the Playoffs and a Game 5 suspension followed. Whether his antics and subsequent suspension played a role in the Warriors blowing a 3-1 Finals lead is up for discussion. But that he ruffled some feathers along the way isn’t.
Then there were more off-the-court incidents this past summer that continued to take the conversation away from his incredible on-court play, such as when he slapped a heckling fan outside of a bar in downtown East Lansing in July (although heckling fans is a post of its own that needs to be addressed) and that genital pic he accidentally put up on Snapchat.
While those off-court incidents and even the infamous flagrant fouls don’t have anything to do with his talent, skill set and impressive numbers, it has affected the way people perceive his overall game. And as we look to forecast his performance this upcoming season, what went down this summer certainly has to be factored in—Kevin Durant joining Golden State that is.
An All-Star despite being the third option on his team last year, Green will automatically become the fourth option this season. Although preseason is, well, just preseason, the first three Warriors games of this month may have offered some glimpses of what his production could look like this season.
Green is leading the team in rebounds three games into the preseason, a category he also led last season. At the moment, though, he’s sixth in scoring (Patrick McGraw, Ian Clark and David West are all in front of him after the usual suspects of Klay, KD and Curry). He’s third in assists after Curry and KD and third in steals. With another lethal scoring option this season, it’ll be interesting to see how many touches he gets and what he decides to do with them.
Whether it’s an indicative of the season to come is anyone’s guess. It’s preseason and could very well mean nothing at all. But by adding one of the top-five players in the League to the roster, Green’s role will definitely be one of the most interesting developments to closely watch during the season.
Last season’s performance brought him into the top-20 conversation. We usually say where a player goes from here is up to them. But this time there may be a whole set of factors (and players) in the way. As a second-round pick, though, he knows a thing or two about making it work despite it.
DRAYMOND GREEN SLAM TOP 50 HISTORY
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