clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Draymond Green is as important to the Warriors as Stephen Curry

New, comments

Without Draymond, the Warriors aren't The Warriors.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Warriors remain undefeated after coming back from a 23-point deficit to beat the Clippers on Thursday. Stephen Curry led the way with 40 points and closed the door on Los Angeles late, scoring seven of Golden State's last 11 points. It was another performance that shows why the reigning MVP is in a class of his own right now.

Yet as amazing as Curry has been, Draymond Green has played an equally important part in the Warriors' success, not only against the Clippers, but all season.

When Green is hitting three-pointers, the Warriors are unguardable

In the Finals, the Cavaliers temporarily found success by forcing Green to shoot three-pointers. Cleveland had his man help elsewhere and let him fire away. That allowed the Cavaliers to contain Golden State's potent offense, since Green -- a 34 percent shooter from deep during the regular season -- shot 26 percent on threes in that series.

That game plan doesn't work anymore. So far this season, Green is shooting 44 percent from outside. He's showing a lot of confidence in his stroke and is hitting them coming off screens, trailing the break or in spot-up situations. Opponents can no longer ignore him to guard Stephen Curry.

Green was a league-average shooter last season and that was enough to not hurt the Warriors' offense. Now that he's knocking down outside shots at a high clip, opposing defenses are stretched so thin that they eventually break. The Warriors have at least four shooters on the court at all times and can have five when they go small. That's impossible to guard.

Green is assisting like a point guard

Green assists on over 28 percent of his team's field goals when he's on the court. That's better than nine starting point guards!

He can push the ball on the break and find teammates for easy shots before the defense is even set, something he's worked to improve.

"I know when I need to be pushing it full speed," Green told ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss. "I know when I got to probe and allow the flow to open up, because, at the end of the day, on the basketball court, something's going to open up."

Green has always been aggressive but now he's also showing patience and vision, both in the open floor and in half-court situations. Look what happens when the opponents try to trap Curry and force the ball out of his hands.

By being able to both shoot and create for others, Green makes it impossible for opponents to overload on Curry without paying the price.

The Warriors small lineup destroys everyone because of Green

So far this season, the Warriors' dynamic super-small lineup -- Curry and Klay Thompson in the backcourt, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes at the forward spots and Green at center -- have outscored teams by 60 points in 48 minutes played together, per's stats page. The lineup has an effective field goal percentage of 76.2 percent and opponents have an effective field goal percentage of 44.6 percent against it. The efficiency differential is more than 60 points per 100 possessions. That's unfair.

The craziest part is that it's no fluke, because this lineup did similar damage last season. That unit outscored opponents by 42 points in 102 minutes in the regular season last year and 38 in 111 minutes in the playoffs. The Warriors famously trounced the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals once they made it their starting lineup before Game 4.

Green is the reason the unorthodox lineup is unstoppable. His versatility is as unique as Curry's offensive skill. Green can defend centers and switch to perimeter players with equal ease. He can handle the ball, shoot and pass. He might not be as talented as other players who defy traditional positions, but right now he's arguably the most well-rounded of them all.

Green is the second best player on the league's best team

Green is averaging just 12 points, the fourth best mark on his own team and 87th in the league. For a big man playing 34 minutes a game, his eight rebounds per contest are not an impressive number. What makes Green a star is his versatility. He ranks seventh in the league in assists per game, 22nd in blocks per game and 35th in steals per game. He can do it all.

Traditional stats can't capture defensive impact, but the Warriors are five points better per 100 possessions on that end with him on the court as opposed to off. He's among the best in the league in defensive rating, defensive win shares and defensive box plus minus. Tune in to any Warriors game and the eye test will confirm what the numbers suggest. There's a reason Green finished second for Defensive Player of the Year last season trailing only Kawhi Leonard.

Klay Thompson puts big scoring numbers, Harrison Barnes is the young gem and Andre Iguodala has a Finals MVP to show his worth, but they can't come close to approach the overall impact Green has. Only Curry can make that claim.