As first reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania on Sunday, veteran forward Draymond Green will return to the Golden State Warriors lineup when they meet the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Monday.
The 33-year-old's return comes after a 16-game absence from an indefinite league suspension following Green's hit on Phoenix Suns' center Jusuf Nurkic on December 12.
Draymond Green's return to the Golden State Warriors will open up a myriad of questions that come at a pivotal point for the franchise
The Warriors had an 8-8 record during Green's absence, with his return coming at a crucial time where the team remains languishing at 12th in the Western Conference.
Aside from the obvious issue of whether Green can keep himself together without committing another unsportsmanlike act, his return does open offer some key questions for head coach Steve Kerr as the franchise attempts to navigate back towards playoff contention. Let's take a look at three key questions for the Warriors ahead of Green's return on Monday:
Will Green return immediately to the starting lineup?
Green has played well when on the floor this season, arguably proving the Warriors' second-best and most consistent player behind Stephen Curry. He fully deserves his starting role, but perhaps Kerr would like to ease Green in off the bench given he'll likely be on a minutes restriction over the next few games.
This question would be more fascinating had Jonathan Kuminga not lost the starting power-forward role to Dario Saric over the last two games. With the third-year forward having already moved back to the bench, Green's return to his customary starting role seems assured at some point.
How will Jonathan Kuminga's minutes be impacted by Green's return?
Speaking of Kuminga, the 21-year-old was one of the Warriors' biggest positives in Green's absence having taken advantage of the extra opportunity afforded to him. The former seventh overall pick has 19-straight games of at least 10 points, while he's averaged an impressive 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists on 55.5% shooting over the last 12 games.
Kuminga had 24 points against the Chicago Bulls and a career-high 28 points against the Milwaukee Bucks over his last two games, reinforcing the need for him to play 25+ minutes a night. That might be hard to do with Green's return eating up significant minutes, although the pair should ideally see plenty of minutes together as a four-five small-ball combination.
How much impact will Green have on Golden State's lacklustre defense?
Much of the excitement surrounding Green's return focuses on what the former DPOY will do for the Golden State defense, with the team having struggled mightily in his absence. The Warriors have ranked 29th on that end over the last 16 games, and have ranked 30th across the last 10.
Green won't be the complete panacea for the Warriors' woes defensively, but there's little doubt he'll have a significant impact given his individual skills and his role as the leader of the team on that end. Golden State will need the four-time All-Star to be on his game almost from the outset if they want to return to an even league-average defense and subsequently make their way up the standings.