This time last year Draymond Green was the Warriors’ scrappy bench player with a high basketball IQ and a little bit of upside—according to most. Green had only started a handful of games under then-head coach Mark Jackson, who hadn’t quite bought into Green as a viable option at the power forward position.
Even after improving game over game as a starter in the last four games of a tough loss to the favored Clippers, new Warriors coach Steve Kerr still wasn’t sold on Green as a starter. Having always been the underdog, Draymond didn’t trip on the slight. He hooked up with former Spartan Travis Walton and worked on his game all summer long.
What a difference a year makes. The second-round pick is now a starting stretch-4 with a brand new five-year, $82 million contract and most importantly an NBA Championship ring.
As the heart and soul of a championship team, Draymond’s worth can’t really be quantified using normal NBA analytics. No he’s not going to drop 25 every night. Yes he’s a streaky shooter and, at times, his fire causes him to make mistakes on the court. But would the Warriors have won it all without him? Hell no!
Green will probably never be called on to be the first or second option on offense for the Warriors. He is the guy who will get the key jump shot and lead a one-man break for quick score when the team needs a fire lit. More importantly, he’s the guy that Ron Adams calls on oftentimes to guard the opposing team’s best frontcourt player.
With the departure of David Lee—who worked his way out of coach Kerr’s doghouse in the Finals—to the Celtics, Green’s workload will surely increase this season and so will expectations. Though stacked with frontcourt talent, Speights, Green and Jason Thompson (to a lesser extent) are the only proven power forwards on the roster.
If his time at Michigan State and in the pros is any indication, Green will rise to the occasion. He’s an athlete who thrives by playing with a chip on his shoulder. As his minutes increased last year, so did every stat.
Green averaged more steals, blocks, assists, rebounds and points per game than in his first two years in the League. Not to mention he shot nearly 45 percent on fewer than 10 shots per game.
He’s the efficient player the Dubs need on a court packed with gunslingers. With his guy Luke Walton moving into Alvin Gentry’s seat next to Kerr, expect Draymond to have more of a featured role in the Warriors’ offense.
Between the brash trash talk (Yup) and his uncanny ability to get under his opponent’s skin, on the low, he’s become one of the most hated players in the League. But he’s the most beloved among his teammates. He’s the guy you wish you had on your team.
The guy certainly has no filter—as we saw with his hilarious discourse on small ball with Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside this summer. One thing is for sure: His big talent and bigger heart trump Draymond’s big mouth.
If he improves on/develops his post game and shoots more mid-range jumpers, Green will be a more efficient player for sure. The way the Warriors move the ball, there are tons of open shots to be had and he’s more than earned the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff.
Draymond has surely had his fun this summer with Nike trips to China and appearances on ESPN’s Gameday to root on his Spartans, but he’s also been handling his business the same way he has every offseason—by working on his game in his home state and preparing to prove the naysayers wrong once again.
|SLAM Top 50 Players 2015|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in 2015-16—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.