The NBA Draft is a tool NBA teams use to bring fresh talent to their rosters. Generally, only the first few rookies selected are meant to make a large and immediate impact on their new teams and even fewer are supposed to be important hubs on playoff teams.
The Golden State Warriors bucked the trend as they played not one, but two rookies solid minutes in their playoff rotations. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green played vital roles and greatly impacted the outcome of the Warriors’ first round win of the Denver Nuggets.
Barnes was a starter for 81 games this season and started all five postseason games against the Nuggets.
I’ve always criticized him as a player that doesn’t seem confident in his dribble and as someone who’s been too passive on offense. During this series against the Nuggets, Barnes often made me eat my words as he attacked the basket and was a big part of two of the Warriors’ wins. He also kept the Dubs within striking distance in Game 4, pouring in 23 points. Barnes “broke out” for the Warriors in the first round, as he averaged 17 points per game, almost twice as much as his regular season output.
Draymond Green has been one of the team’s top defenders all season long thanks to his footwork and versatility. He’s not as versatile offensively as Barnes, but Green does get his fair share of points whether it’s off an offensive rebound or from three- point range.
In Game 6, Green had an incredibly understated performance, posting a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) and made his shots count. His defense was still great but when the Warriors got the most out of him with his offensive opportunities. When Golden State gets this kind of production from a mostly one-dimensional guy, it’s hard to complain. It’s no secret that Green’s good at defense and that his size and bulk allow the Warriors to play small-ball without giving away much on the glass. He often gets ignored on the offensive end, but that ignorance cost the Nuggets dearly in Game 6.
The two have both matured a fair bit since the beginning of the season, and even now they still seem like they have a lot more room to improve. Barnes has the higher ceiling thanks to his length, athleticism and jump-shot while Draymond is reliable rotation player who does everything asked of him. These two rookies have played big minutes for the Dubs and have made them count with their on-court production. If they continue to grow, the future looks even brighter for Warriors organization.