September 30, 2015
No one has ever accused Draymond Green of being shy. The straightforward and candid communicator appears unchanged by his success last season, if you take him at face value. On Monday, Green let loose, talking the talk and that’s where Green has been his most radiant, emptying his brain of stuff. It’s a change because many professional athletes, regardless of the sport, became distant and moody after their first few years; war wounds sparring with the media leave blood. But Green hasn’t hit that level of media angst yet. He was eager to talk about the Warriors climb into brilliance, and more importantly, how the best of Warriors basketball is yet to come.
Winning 67 games is spectacular. You can’t get much better. In NBA history, only the Mavericks, Bulls, Celtics and Lakers won as many games as the Warriors did last year, a fact Green is proud of. Firmly entrenched in his own success and believing the Warriors are building something special because the players are all so young, the advantage, according to Green, is theirs. Everyone up and down the roster can get better. A perfect NBA player has never existed. But it is kind of shocking to hear him say with so much bravado and confidence, as if he already knows how the story will end, that the Warriors haven’t reached their potential.
“I definitely see another level for him ( Steph Curry). I still think he’s scratching the surface for how good he’s going to be. It’s exciting to watch. I think a lot of guys on this team are in that same position. You see how good you can be but you’re not there yet. It’s just exciting. We’ve still got a lot to give.”
Despite their NBA title, the Warriors are not the favorites to repeat and for two reasons. Hardly anyone repeats in the NBA; it’s a rare LeBron James and Kobe Bryant club. And the Western Conference is California drought deep. So many good players are up and down the conference, teams that have more experienced players than the Warriors, specifically the Spurs and Thunder and Clippers. The Cavs and Spurs are the top two favorites to meet in the NBA Finals followed by the Warriors and Thunder, according to Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook.
Being slighted only makes the Warriors hungrier, so says Draymond Green.
“We’ve still got a lot left in the tank. We want to make sure we captialize on that.”
For Green, he’s had a busy summer celebrating his first NBA title in Draymond Green style which means being loud, having a good time, smiling, partying, and representing Saginaw, Michigan. The city of Saginaw threw Draymond Green a parade and over a thousand of its folks lined the route to see the local kid who made good.
An accomplished winner on all levels, Draymond Green won the state championship in high school. He was in two Final Fours at Michigan State. Now he wears the NBA crown. This summer, after signing a five-year $82 million deal, he gave $3.1 million of it to his alma mater Michigan State to help in the construction of a weight room.
“Giving that donation was important to me. Michigan State has done so much for me as a person, more so than even a player. Obviously, my whole game changed when I got there, for the better.”
Will the Warriors game change for the better, though? One area of needed growth is the free throw line. They were at the bottom of the league in trips to the charity stripe primarily because they don’t drive and create contact in the lane. Last season, they were a terrible offensive rebounding team which is reflective of their lack of free throws. Grabbing misses in the lane gets you fouled. The Warriors also allowed their opponents to grab more offensive rebounds.
Steph Curry had 3.1 turnovers per game, tying him with Rajon Rondo and Tyreke Evans. But Curry was the third most efficient player in the NBA, posting a Personal Efficiency Rating (PER) of 28.0, trailing Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
Personally, Draymond Green can improve his shooting from 3-10 feet. He made 20% of his shots from that distance, a miserable number. In the playoffs, his shooting outside of 10 feet was atrocious: 25% from 10-16 feet, 22% on long-two’s, 26% on 3-pointers. But he killed in the playoffs with his assist percentage (percentage of made baskets he assisted on). At 21.2 %, it was 7% points higher than in the regular season.
So, he is right to expect more of his teammates and himself but it’s going to be a lot harder than Draymond Green thinks. If repeating as a champion was easy then 8 out of the last 14 NBA champions would have done it.
photo via llananba