“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m arrogant. I’m just confident. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m an asshole. I just don’t take no shit. And I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m disrespectful. You’ve just got to earn my respect.” — Draymond Green, Grantland (April 2015)
There isn’t anyone in the NBA like Draymond Green.
In today’s version of the NBA, you can’t measure the importance on having someone on your team who can do everything at a high level on a nightly basis. Many teams would adore a player of that magnitude. Draymond Green is exactly that.
Green is a fascinating person and basketball player for many reasons. As a player, he doesn’t back down from anyone and is the consummate teammate. Draymond is the player whom you hate to play against but the player you want on your team. In the era of NBA players being consumed by money and being Hollywood, Green is just as blue-collar as his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan.
Whether it’s talking about Green’s jovial personality or his multifaceted skills, there isn’t anyone quite like Green. He has assumed his role as the heart and soul of the Golden State Warriors, and he embraces it like no other. We all know that Steph Curry is one of the best players in the NBA, but Green is in a class by himself as well. How many teams would love to have him as their starting power forward? I’m sure the number is very high, but then again every team in the NBA had a chance to have Green, as he was passed over in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft.
It’s easy to point out that the Warriors are the best team in the NBA, and Green has a lot to do with it. The “small ball” lineup of Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Iguodala-Green is regarded as the best lineup in the NBA. The stats say the same as well, and defensive efficiency is a whopping 90.0 with those five on the floor. Green having his best season as a pro is a large part of that. His numbers (12.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 7.1 apg) may not scream NBA All-Star, but he has proven his worth to the Warriors on a nightly basis.
Green’s skill set and versatility help the Warriors establish their identity. What separates Golden State from all the teams in the NBA is its versatility. Whether it’s playing big or playing small, the Warriors can do both and do both better than the opposition. That theme is in large part due to the Michigan State product.
On defense, Green can guard all five positions and allows the Warriors to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They rank in the top five in defensive efficiency at 96.5, and they lead the league in largest margin of victory. With the NBA being predicated on point guard play and pick-and-rolls, Green can switch on any player without creating a discernible mismatch on the man he picks up. There aren’t many players in the NBA who have this unique ability to guard the pick and roll, protect the rim and successfully guard any position.
The success of the aforementioned small-ball lineup hinges on the play of Green. With the ability to guard opposing centers and perimeter players, it creates a matchup nightmare. Basketball will never relegate itself to a position-less game because size is always attractive, but Green and Warriors make a pretty darn good case.
On the offensive end, Green’s efficiency rate is 116.9 — the same as Curry. As a team, the Warriors lead the league in offensive efficiency at 113.5. With Green being the team leader in assists per game, it’s allowed Curry to focus on being the primary scorer rather than the primary playmaker. His development as a facilitator has enhanced Curry’s scoring, something that’s just downright frightening for perhaps the greatest shooter the game has ever seen. I am not saying that Green is the reason for Curry’s inflation in points, but he plays a huge role in the upsurge for the Warriors.
Just take a look at the small-ball lineup with Green at center: The Warriors are scoring 160.9 points per 100 possessions. Ball movement is the key, and Green sets the tone with his ability to pass the ball.
Speaking of passing the ball, November was a month to remember, as Green had three triple-doubles, including back-to-back triple-doubles, which is downright impressive.
Per 100 possessions, Green is averaging 10.2 apg, which trumps his 5.7 apg from last season. He is also averaging 10.1 assists per 48 minutes, which ranks him 8th in the NBA above players such as LeBron James, Steph Curry, James Harden and Damian Lillard. Not bad for a power forward, huh?
The logo himself Jerry West had a few things to say about Green. From Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Warriors executive board member Jerry West, who averaged 25.8 points and a league-leading 9.7 assists on the 71-72 Lakers’ team, doesn’t think its 33-game win streak is in jeopardy. But he left open the possibility.
“We have two of the top-10 players in the league,” West told KNBR on Wednesday, knowing he didn’t need to explain Curry. “Draymond Green is the second one. He’s the most underrated player in the NBA, period. There are very few players I think anyone in our organization would trade for him. He’s just a remarkable player.
“If he’s not a top-10 player in this league, I don’t know who is.”
In my opinion, Green isn’t a top 10 player, but there aren’t many players who have the value that Green adds to his team. There are a lot of ballers who are more exciting, athletic and flat-out better than Green, but nobody is as intriguing. Since coming to the NBA out of Michigan State, Green has transformed as a player. Viewed as a tweener coming out of college, he’s proved that he is one of the most irreplaceable players in the NBA.
We as people become creatures of habit and start to notice things as they appear more often. With Draymond Green, he is just scratching the surface of what he can become as a player. Sooner rather than later, people will start to realize that he is the most intriguing player in the NBA.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp