Is this the season the dominance of the Golden State Warriors fall short? In truthfulness, yes. Without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, experts knew it was going to happen. However, that doesn’t mean they have to go down quietly. Even with Stephen Curry and newly acquired All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors’ season will only show promise if Draymond Green can prove why he’s considered an All-Star.
In the past four seasons, Green has been selected to three All-Star Games with season averages of 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists while shooting .490 percent from the floor in 2015. During the 2016 campaign, Green showed he wasn’t a one year wonder by averaging 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists.
To top off his remarkable run, Green is widely considered one of the best defenders in the NBA. He officially took home that honor in 2017. With all those accolades, why is the play of Green being questioned this season? The reason for that is simple. Green has never put up what should be considered great numbers. He was just the product of a great system while playing alongside great players. If he was on the Charlotte Hornets with similar numbers, they would be ignored.
To defend the critics, the questions really began during the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. With Durant out and Thompson hobbled then completely removed, the Warriors only had Curry and Green to rely on. The end result, the Raptors knocked off the Warriors as Green was unable to contain either Kawhi Leonard or Pascal Siakam.
Draymond Green, on the offensive side of the court, managed to average 12.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 9.3 assists while hitting .433 percent of his shots. The writing was on the wall, Green is not an offensive threat. This offseason, after Durant left, the Warriors panicked knowing there was no one to help Curry.
Although the Warriors won a title without Durant in 2015, that was an entirely different roster. Plus, the Cleveland Cavaliers had health issues of their own with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both out. All Green had to do was defend, dish, and make the occasional three from atop the key or the corner.
Now, this season, things have not come as easy. While Russell made the All-Star Game last season, he’s no Thompson or Durant. Teams can now play tighter on Curry and loose on Russell knowing he’s not a true threat from deep (.314) this season. The pressure is on Green to produce.
With Curry out, the Warriors will do more than struggle. This is one of those weird seasons where it can change the organization for the future. A losing season will bring a high draft pick and with the return of Thompson and Curry (later this year) the Warriors have a chance to rebuild after one down year. But still, that doesn’t take the pressure off Green.
Draymond Green is arguably the best stretch 4 in the NBA. But with the Warriors’ roster short on true paint play, Steve Kerr has elected at times to play Green in the pivot position. He’s a great defender, but this has often left him in foul trouble. Kerr will need to devise a new offensive plan of attack and find ways to utilize Green more across the court.
Will Green bring the ball up some? Will he direct the offense from atop the key and look for a cutting Russell more? As bad as the situation is for the Warriors, this is exactly the moment Green should’ve been waiting for. Now he has a chance to silence his critics about his play and most importantly, his attitude
Imagine the praise he will get if he can lead the Golden State Warriors to a winning record and possibly the playoffs. With a contract year looming, Green will without a doubt earn himself top dollar. If he can tame that aggression he plays with, others will begin to view him differently.