It seems as though Draymond Green has been forgotten. With the acquisition of Andre Iguodala, the signings of Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O’Neal, and the spectacular summer league performance of Kent Bazemore, Green has not found a way to enter the spotlight on the Golden State Warriors.
I had all but forgotten about the Michigan State product until I ran across a short interview that he did with ESPN TrueHoop. The interview made me think about what Green’s role would be in this coming season and what was he realistic ceiling and floor for next season.
Green emerges as an off-the-bench defensive stopper who would specialize in shutting down other small forwards and put a near double-double in limited minutes. He would also become the spiritual leader of the team and continue to lead the Warriors on the court and in the prayer circle.
Let’s break down this assessment step by step.
In terms of defense, Green is a force. According to 82games.com, he limited opposing small forwards to 12.2 PER (Player Efficiency Rating.) With a 7’1’’ wingspan and a 8’10’’ standing reach, Draymond can really make life tough on defense.
He also has a great motor and is deceptively quick for his size, as evidenced by his ability to poke the ball loose and create turnovers. He averaged 2.3 steals per game in the NBA Summer League, and although there are a lot of other factors that may affect that, he clearly is capable of creating a defensive stop with his quick hands. Another offseason to develop will do nothing but help his defensive abilities as he learns other players tendencies and mannerisms.
In terms of the near double-double, we can easily extrapolate Green’s playoff and regular season statistics and see how he would do. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 7.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in the regular season and 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in the playoffs (per game).
Now, even if he doesn’t get those minutes, which he likely won’t, he can still improve his shooting and his rebounding. He probably takes too many mid-range jumpers where he shoots 29.9 percent and will settle for the pass instead of the low-percentage shot.
An interesting part of his game is that he is very good at finishing at the rim, shooting 57.6 in that area, and he also has a very reliable three-point shot from the left corner. It’s not a stretch to think he can improve if not his shot, his sensibility and decision-making instead of jacking up the jumper.
In terms of this spiritual leadership, I think this one is by far the most realistic and one that is likely already coming to fruition. The now-famous post-game prayer circle in which Green leads the team has become a symbol of Golden State’s new identity as a faith-based basketball team.
He could be the key individual when the Warriors are on the bad side of a run or they are failing to take care of the ball to inspire the team and try to create a change. Sometimes it seemed, especially during the season, that the Dubs needed someone to just take charge and say “we need to stop committing turnovers” or “we need to close this game out.”
Green becomes an offensive black hole and continues to waste valuable possessions with low-percentage jumpers. His game does not grow in this offseason and he is unable to become anything more than the locker room leader.
In terms of offensive inefficiency, we can look to his 2012-13 statistics. He shot 25.2 percent on 214 jump shots. Even if you ignore three-point attempts, which could be responsible for bringing down his percentage, he shoots 26 percent on all shots greater than three feet from the hoop but within the three-point arc. He shot 25.6 percent on 90 three-point attempts last year.
The problem isn’t his percentages, it’s that he keeps taking the shots. This is by far the most dangerous part of Green’s game and if it is not addressed, it will hurt the Warriors next season.
I only see his defense either improving or staying the same, as I don’t think you can necessarily regress in defense between your first and second season.
I think the sophomore forward will become the team’s spiritual leader in both scenarios, and he will be a positive contributor to the team even on a night that takes nine shots and only makes one.