The Greatness of Draymond Green

Without Draymond Green, the Warriors are a good team.

With Draymond Green, the Warriors are a great team. Draymond has developed into one of the NBA’s best all-around players. He starts at power forward, yet he leads the Warriors in assists at 7.1 per game. He leads his team in rebounds with 8.2 per game while also averaging over one steal and one block. He had a triple-double on Saturday night against the Kings. 13 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists.

The night before, against the Suns, he had 14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, two blocks, a steal, and zero missed field goals in another triple double effort. On Monday, he almost had another triple double at Utah: 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists.

On the season, Green is shooting 40.3% on threes, which ranks him ahead of marksmen such as J.J. Redick, Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard. His field goal percentage (47.1), three-point percentage, free throw percentage (74.5), points (13.2), and assists (7.1) are all up from a year ago, and are all at career highs.

Draymond is the reason why Golden State’s small-ball lineup of Green, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala is so deadly. In this lineup, the Warriors deploy Green at center, who can shoot beyond the arc at an elite rate, pass like a point guard, handle the ball, and effectively run the break. This lineup spreads the court with five dynamic offensive players, making it nearly impossible to defend.

No opponent has been able to combat the small-ball lineup. Through 16 games, this lineup had played 62 minutes and posted a Net Rating (point differential per 100 possessions) of +71. This squad has also posted a true shooting percentage of 84%, which is extraordinary when considering that Golden State normally has a league-leading TS% of 59%. They have also shot threes at a 62% clip, which is more than 25% higher than the league average. Without Draymond, this lineup would not exist.

Draymond makes life easier for his teammates, including Steph. Because of his versatility, Green is often put in pick-and-roll situations with Curry. The reigning MVP is frequently double-teamed when he comes off the screen, which allows him to dish to an open Green. When the next defender steps up to guard Green, he then uses his exceptional vision to find open shooters, which contributes to Golden State’s elite shooting percentages.

His greatest influence is on the defensive end. He ranks 4th in the NBA in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, and ranks first out of all forwards. He can guard all five positions, as he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of guards, and the strength to bang down low with seven footers.

This relates back to the small-ball lineup, as teams cannot just throw the ball down low against Green when he is playing center. In Golden State’s last game against the Clippers, they went to the small-ball lineup in the fourth quarter in order to put the finishing touch on an impressive comeback effort. In this fourth quarter, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for one made field goal with Green anchoring Golden State’s defense.

With Green on the floor, Golden State’s defense is nearly eight points per 100 possessions better than when he is on the bench. He does everything he needs to do to provide the Warriors with a win, which is why he is so highly regarded by his organization. Last season, Draymond played a game in which he only scored four points. Head coach Steve Kerr responded by telling reporters that it was “one of the greatest four-point performances I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The only regression that Green has had since last season is his increased turnovers. He is averaging 2.6, up from 1.7 last year. He had 5 turnovers on Monday against the Jazz. However, his assists have nearly doubled from a year ago, and he ranks 13th in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio. The increased turnover rate is simply a result of increased usage, as well as Golden State’s up-tempo style of play.

Stephen Curry is obviously the best player on the Warriors, and quite possibly the best player in the world. But Draymond Green is the X-factor in Golden State’s success. He is what allows the Warriors to make history as he provides the balance that every great team needs.

photo via llananba