Insane statistic proves veteran's value despite Golden State Warriors loss

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Individual plus-minus can often be a misleading statistic in any single game, but in the case of Draymond Green it was a perfect illustration of the veteran forward's value against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

While all the attention was on the legendary duo of Stephen Curry and LeBron James who combined for 82 points in the double overtime thriller, you could make the argument Green was actually the most important player on the floor (at least during regulation).

Draymond Green was back to his versatile best despite the Golden State Warriors' 145-144 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday

Quite remarkably, Green finished as a +31 in his nearly 46 minutes. In just over 12 minutes without the former Defensive Player of the Year, the Warriors were -32. Green's importance is even more astounding given it was just his fourth game back from a 16-game absence, having seemingly lost nothing during his suspension.

The 33-year-old is playing like a man who owes his team, and well he might given the absence was self-inflicted. Sure, Green's three-ball wasn't at the level it has been this season (0-of-4), but he otherwise had his fingerprints all over the game.

It was a typical Green boxscore, with the four-time All-Star finishing with eight points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists, three steals and two blocks. He regularly made the right reads and orchestrated accordingly on offense, while regularly making things difficult for Anthony Davis on the other end.

If the single game plus-minus wasn't astonishing enough, Green is now a +66 in his four games since return. Golden State are 1-3 in that period, including back-to-back one-point losses that's added further heartbreak and disappointment to their season.

Aside from a minutes restriction over the first three games, there's been little easing into it. That was always going to be the case given the urgency needed in the Warrior season, and it's a shame that Green's excellent personal form hasn't translated into team wins.

Not totally expected was Steve Kerr's almost immediate reliance on Green as a small-ball center. Of course, he's played the position regularly over the last decade, but more so in closing lineups or during the postseason.

Despite the threat of Davis, Kerr chose to start the newfound best lineup featuring Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Green in the frontcourt. Given it's relative success over recent games, one suspects it's a unit that will continue. The question now becomes whether Green can hold up physically during a longer stretch as a small-ball center?

While his value was particularly evident on Saturday, the reality is that Green's been very good when on the floor this season. Although there may be an inch of optimism amid his return, there has to be an element of continued frustration with the fact he put himself out for a large period over the first half of the season.