The Golden State Warriors roster is arguably the best collection of talent we have ever seen in the NBA. Dubbing them the best is an understatement because they just manage to make their roster better than the last for each year. Draymond Green is a large reason for this.
The Houston Rockets is the best example of how the modern NBA should evolve. High octane offense and stingy defense, a pair of unselfish All-stars and a futuristic coach make a good recipe for them to succeed. James Harden is a huge part of that.
It is no surprise why these two juggernauts are always paired to be against each other. Last season, the Warriors got the best of them. They won that series against the Rockets 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals.
If a turn of surprising events is to occur, given their play style and their rosters, how good will both team be if Draymond Green and James Harden switch teams?
Let’s try and determine what they bring to the table first.
Draymond Green is the 35th pick overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. For his size at 6’7 he can surprisingly anchor the defense on his own, and switch into all five positions. This four-time All-Defensive team selection and 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year is not just you one trick pony. He passes, rebounds, and he can score aside from the defense that he is known for.
Dubbed as the heart of the Golden State Warrior team, that says a lot despite his career averages of 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks. Clearly, his value to the team is not based on his stat line, but the game-changing intangibles he gets to provide.
The unquestioned leader of the Rockets, 3rd overall pick of the 2009 draft, and the reigning season MVP, James Harden would be the complete opposite of Green in play style, but not in value.
He thrives in transition and can take over a game offensively any given time. Creating for teammates is second nature to him, getting a good number of assists. His last season numbers were 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals.
Moreover, the Rockets offense has it tailored around him, making them space and take a lot of shots from the perimeter.
At this juncture, it would be unfair to both players to exclusively look at statistics to evaluate this player swap given the difference in function and usage per team.
Harden’s PER or player efficiency rating is 29.8 last year compared to Draymond Green’s 16.1.
Both players are great in their own right, swapping Harden for Green and vice versa will not yield the same numbers for sure.
So what can be the take away from the player swap?
Warriors with James Harden
The Warriors will be the undisputed three-point bombers in the league in terms of makes and attempts, but they won’t be the most efficient team compared before. Harden shot 10 attempts on 3.7 makes last season.
The Warriors were already first in fast-break points last season, but Harden’s addition makes the point gap between first and second rank ridiculously far. Death lineup 3.0 will be Curry, Harden, Thompson, Igoudala, and Durant.
Pace and offensive rating will be at a ridiculously high number, but the number of points the opposing team gets on them increases marginally. Turnovers might be a problem.
The Rockets with Draymond Green
The Green and Capela front court will be one of the best in the league with their big man pick and roll. This duo will defensively punish the league. Numbers from last season would dictate a combined 7.5 defensive win shares from Capela and Green.
The Rockets offensive rating will likely remain the same, but the game will be slower with more half court sets. On the bright side, the turnovers will be fewer. The Rockets’ starting unit would be Paul, Gordon, Anthony, Green, and Capela.
From this perspective, it makes it clear that both players with their original teams are in their ideal scenarios for them, due to the roster, system, and culture built around them. Both are already placed in an optimal position to win a championship.
Undoubtedly, these two teams will lock horns again this upcoming season. How long will we get to see the grudge matches? We may never know, but it will always be entertaining for sure.