To say the Golden State Warriors bench has been bad is an understatement. They average a league worst 22.9 points per game.
Part of that low total is due to the Warriors stellar play from their starters, but part of it is also a result of inconsistent bench play.
When the Warriors traded for former Boston Celtics shooting guard Jordan Crawford, they believed they were getting the missing piece to their roster, a productive bench player who can score. But Crawford will need time to truly infuse himself in the Warriors system.
One bench player who always brings consistent production is Warriors second-year man Draymond Green. But Green is only playing 19 minutes per game this season.
Last September before Green’s rookie campaign began, head coach Mark Jackson said that Green could become the team’s next “Swiss Army knife” player. And Green has emerged as just that.
Green does just about everything for the Warriors on both ends of the floor.
In the clip above, Green plays pick-and-pop with Stephen Curry and pops out for an open three. He pump fakes and puts the ball on the floor, drawing a foul at the rim. Green’s improvement in his three-point shooting has been instrumental to his increased production this season. Last season during the regular season, Green shot a mere 21 percent from three. Last year in the playoffs, Green shot 39 percent from three and not surprisingly played more minutes. This season he is shooting 34 percent from three and 38 percent from the field.
Green shoots 38 percent in the second half of games, which is up from 31 percent three-point shooting in the first half of games. Green’s three-point shooting woes is one of the reasons why he doesn’t play more minutes, but if his shoot is on, then his minutes go up.
Green though does not need the ball in his hands to make an impact on the offensive end. In this clip, Green appears to be a total non-factor for the entire possession until he gathers Harrison Barnes’ miss and throws it out to Curry for an open three-pointer.
Defensively, Green does it all as well. Opponents shoot a lower percentage against the Warriors with Green on the floor than with him off the court.
As the chart above via NBA.com illustrates, opponents shoot much lower percentages from the paint, from midrange, and from three with Green on the floor. Because of his unique combination of size and strength Green is not only able to guard both big men like he did in the playoffs last season, but also point guards such as Damian Lillard, who Green stifled for portions of Sunday night’s Warriors win against the Trail Blazers.
Against Portland, Green fouled out with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter leaving to a standing ovation from the crowd. The Trail Blazers promptly went on a 12-3 run to cut the lead to 12 points with just over four minutes to go. Coincidence? I think not.
Green is also one of four Warriors who has played in all 45 games this season. Only David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Marreese Speights are the other Warriors who can say that.
But to give Green more minutes, you must take minutes away from other players. There are two solutions to giving Green more minutes.
Option one is to cut Harrison Barnes’ playing time. Barnes is averaging 29.5 minutes per game and his plus/minus is minus 2.2 In the month of January, Barnes has struggled. He is averaging only 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. This month he has only 3 double-digit scoring games which is troublesome for someone who the Warriors expected to take great strides in his second season.
The other way Jackson could give Green more minutes is to take some away from Curry and Klay Thompson. Thompson and Curry are averaging 37.8 minutes per game a piece, which is far too many for players of their importance. The Warriors need Thompson and Curry to be ready for the playoffs and the Warriors are running the risk of warring out their sharp-shooting backcourt by February.
Draymond Green is no Stephen Curry, no Klay Thompson, no David Lee, and no Andre Iguodala. But Green is the Warriors’ Swiss Army knife and Jackson needs to get him on the floor for more than 19 minutes per game if the Warriors want to be real contenders in the Western Conference.
All stats are as of 1/27 .