The Golden State Warriors are a mess, and their blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers recently further point them under a microscope. The Warriors are healthy again, adding Step Curry and Draymond Green, as both missed a series of games. But the addition of the two players haven’t made the Warriors the scary collection they once were and many are attempting to figure out the culprit.
Green’s struggles offensively naturally make him the scapegoat, as he’s connected on 14-67 three-pointers this season. But when Green gets going on both ends of the floor, the Warriors are difficult to beat, making him the true glue of the team.
Green’s versatility on the defensive end has allowed the Warriors to match up well against opposing teams with elite talent without sacrificing much over the years. On offense, his passing, screens, transition play and shooting put a wrench into defensive gameplans.
But Green this season hasn’t been on the court enough to let his presence be felt. A toe injury caused the star forward to miss 14 games. Couple that with his shooting woes, it can help explain why Green being out of rhythm has caused the Warriors to be out of rhythm, too.
For sweeping changes to happen, Green must raise his intensity on defense similar to years past. Between 2014-2018, Green’s defensive field goal percentage inside six feet averaged out to 51.5%. This season Green is allowing 62.4%. For someone of Green’s caliber, this is a statistic that must lower to showcase his impact.
Offensively, the Warriors must find ways to get the enigmatic Green back to a high level. Green usually gets wide open looks, and his inability to knock those down has hurt the Warriors on offense. If Green knocks down an open three, the Warriors starting lineup are presenting four capable shooters. Obviously, this is a nightmare for opposing defenses, especially when the Warriors have Oracle eruptions.
In the 2015-2016 NBA season, Draymond Green connected on 38.8 percent of his three-point shots. In the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Green’s 41 percent three-point connection rate would help spearhead a 16-1 NBA Finals run. This was peak Warriors in their form and the addition of Durant made them even more dangerous. Green’s shooting from three obviously hasn’t helped the Warriors be as dominant as the 2015-17 Warriors, but it shows the importance of his needed involvement.
Basically, as Draymond Green goes as a shooter from beyond the arc, Golden State’s success easily follows. The less dynamic he is from distance, the more limited the offense can be when he’s on the floor.
To remedy Green’s shooting woes, Steve Kerr has stated that he will experiment in using Green more as a screener. Green is most dangerous as a ball handler, setting his teammates up for scores. With Green utilized as a screen outlet, this will lead to defenders crashing down to defend, leaving his teammates open.
Sounds very much like the Warriors are going to start using Draymond Green more as a screener, in both on and off ball action, forcing his defender into the fray. pic.twitter.com/gFVZZuhu6M
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 26, 2018
Kerr attempting to find ways to get Green involved offensively speaks volumes to Green’s true value. Green’s basketball acumen has assured that the Warriors have a player that won’t let things become easy. However, with the Warriors accustomed to hydroplaning during the regular season, injuries, and the looming arrival of Boogie Cousins, the Warriors and Green have lost what makes them special.
To keep things in perspective, winning three NBA titles in a row isn’t easy. But to accomplish that feat, you must remember your core identity. Green’s unique approach to the game is what helped shape the Warriors identity: selfless, smart, great passing, shooting, and defense.
So far, he hasn’t lived up to his previous seasons as the NBA’s premier Swiss Army Knife. But if the Warriors want to get back on track, it starts with getting Green back in rhythm. No Draymond Green, no NBA championships.