It’s 2:21 P.M. on a Sunday afternoon, and the Michigan State Spartans just won their 22nd game of the season. They put together a typical Spartans contest against the Purdue Boilermakers: Strong defense, great ball movement, timely shots, and a toughness that Tom Izzo teams are known to possess.
At the head of this effort is the man who went from a 280-pound bit contributor in his freshman season to a 230-pound grown man who not only is the best player in the Big Ten, but should be a first-team All-American and, according to some (including me) is the best leader in America. That man is none other than #Draymond Green.
Simply put, the man is the biggest reason why this Michigan State team is what it is today and has become one of my favorite players in college basketball, which pretty much means I’ll defend his game and his impact to dominate a contest to anyone, anytime, anywhere (for previous examples, see Law, Acie; Pullen, Jacob and Butler, Caron just to name a few). They are ranked seventh in the country, but when you look at their team on paper, it’s hard to see it. However, this is a team that is a reflection of its leaders: Their head coach, who I’ve been a huge fan of for years, as well as their best player, who just so happens to be #Draymond.
The man is not only averaging a double-double, but he’s close to four assists a game, and there have been plenty when he’s had five or more as well. He runs the offense from the point forward position, despite the fact that Keith Appling is technically the point guard. He tells everyone where to be on the court, can play effectively anywhere on the floor and can guard anyone from guards to big men. Whatever Izzo needs #Draymond to do, he can and will do it.
If one is to look at the forwards in college basketball, the names that rattle off are ones who have a history or some kind of story around them: You have Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, and Thomas Robinson, just to name a few. However, you can make a strong case that none of those guys are as important to their team’s ability to succeed or fail as #Draymond.
Think about it. If Barnes doesn’t play well, UNC has other guys who will step up and get them a dub. The same can be said for Ohio State, Baylor and Kansas, especially KU, since their ability to succeed not only depends on the play of Robinson, but also on the play of Tyshawn Taylor, since he’s good enough to win them a big game, when needed.
Look at this Michigan State roster, a roster with solid players, but as solid as they are, there’s no mistaking them with players who can be seen as difference-makers. #Draymond Green, as stated earlier, realizes his importance to the team and will do anything possible (and has) to put Michigan State in a position to make noise in March.
I’ll even go as far as to say #Draymond is the best leader Michigan State has had since The Mateen Cleaves Days in the late-90s and early-2000s. To make the distinction even more clear, what did Michigan State do in Mateen’s senior season? Look it up, and get back to me.
If someone would have predicted this back in 2008-09, I would have called them out on it. Hell, if they predicted this at the beginning of the season, I would have had a strong amount of trepidation, but #Draymond is closing in on helping Michigan State possibly make their third Final Four in his four years on campus, and not only will be helping them, he’ll be the face of their run as well.