The Brilliance of Draymond Green
The Golden State Warriors have ruled upon the NBA (3–1 lead aside) with an iron fist the past three years, sporting a regular season record of 207–39, including breaking 1995–96 Chicago Bulls single season win record by going 73–9. The Warriors had Steph Curry explode onto the scene as a world beating 3 point marksman during the 2014–15 season then involved into a full-blown offensive supernova, nailing 402 threes during the 2015–16 season. Also, Klay Thompson quietly made the most threes ever in a single season by anyone not named Steph Curry as well during the 2015–16 season. Then after blowing a 3–1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors just up and decided to add a top 3 player in the NBA in the form of Kevin Durant. So between Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, the Warriors rode an absurd offensive attack into a 12–0 run into the playoffs, where they’ll be favorites against the Cavaliers. But what if I told you that the most important player, the engine that makes the Warriors run wasn’t any of the three guys I named? I hope you believe me, because the most important cog in the Warriors machine is Draymond Green.
It’s very easy to forget about the sheer importance of Draymond Green on a team that sports three great offensive players, as most people tend to want to see people put the ball in the basket, but Draymond’s all around game on both sides of the ball is absolutely crucial to the Dubs. On offense, Draymond brings the ability to handle the ball, set (technically illegal but very effective) on and off ball screens, move without the ball and knock down open three pointers when counted on doing so. Also, Draymond’s non stop motor allows him to crash the offensive glass to get his dangerous offense additional possessions, with many of his offensive rebounds coming in crucial late game situations for the Warriors. On defense, Draymond brings elite perimeter defense and rim protection, using his quick feet, active hands, high basketball IQ, and great anticipation skills to throw a wrench in opposing offenses plans night in and night out.
Since Green’s major contributions of both sides of the ball tend to go under the radar, I am taking it upon myself to highlight the vital things Draymond brings on both sides of the court for the back to back to back Western Conference champions in these following games:
2017 Game 1 of WCQF vs Blazers — 19/12/9/5/3 (Pts/Reb/Ast/Blk/Stl)
2016 Game 6 of WCSF vs Blazers 37/9/8/1/1
2016 Game 7 of NBA Finals vs Cavs 32/15/9/2 (Pts/Reb/Ast/Stl)
2017 vs Grizzlies 4/12/10/10/5
Getting into the first game, Draymond does a good job staying strong while snatching the rebound in traffic. Then, true to the Warriors’ play style, Draymond pushes the ball up the floor to KD, creating a fastbreak opportunity which usually leads to easy buckets for the Dubs just like this slam from Durant.
Draymond being able to handle the ball up the floor opens up a world of possibilities for the Warriors offense and a world of nightmares for defenses. This allows the Warriors to run their perimeter, off-ball screen action that almost always ends in a 3 pointer by Steph, Klay, or KD. This time, KD was the recipient, getting a wide open three pointer.
By the end of this article you’re gonna be convinced that Draymond Green should have Hall of Fame Lob City Passer on NBA 2K17. Draymond takes the ball in the low post then puts his good court vision and IQ to work and hit a rolling Javale McGee with a lob.
This is a prime example of Draymond using his basketball IQ and anticipation to disrupt the opposing team’s offense. Draymond is playing defense in the perfect position where he’s not too far away to close out on his assignment while also not being too far away to help inside, allowing him to watch where the ball is flowing. Draymond spots Allen Crabbe curling around the screen into the paint and immediately goes to the paint where he successfully blocks Crabbe’s shot. Amazing defensive play from Green.
Floor spacing is the name of the game for the Golden State Warriors, and over the years Draymond Green has consistently improved his 3 point stroke so the Warriors can maintain that style of play. His spot up shooting is dangerous because it is often underestimated, just as it was here two times in a span of 4 possessions. Leave him open, that’s a free 3 points for the Warriors.
Draymond’s court vision and willingness and ability to pass from the low post is a huge asset for Golden State, as he’s able to easily pinpoint Ian Clark for a wide open three pointer. If you move well without the ball while Draymond has the rock, you’re going to get rewarded.
Remember when I mentioned those technically illegal but very effective screens earlier? Here is one of those. Draymond dumps the ball off to Klay then just manhandles his defender out of the way with his back side so Klay could have an easy shot around the rim. If the ref isn’t gonna call it (they never ever do), you might as well take advantage of it.
If you need one play to convince anyone that Draymond Green deserves the Defensive Player of the Year, this is it. Green gets out to the perimeter, denying Lillard the three but then somehow gets back to the trailer on the play and cleanly block the layup attempt. What looked like a surefire bucket for the Blazers got absolutely destroyed by the one man wrecking crew that is Draymond Green.
Draymond’s nose for the ball and aggressive pursuit for the ball wasn’t rewarded with a rebound, but he still stayed aggressive in his pursuit of the rock and denied CJ McCollum the turnaround shot. No freebies while Draymond is roaming.
Cookies, he’ll take this.
Here goes Draymond’s relentless coming up huge again. With the Blazers making a run, if they were able to get a stop on the Warriors here they would’ve had an opportunity to shrink the lead to 3 points, but Draymond wasn’t having it. Using his strength advantage, Draymond forces his way to the paint to get a crucial tip in that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 8.
Again, no freebies while Draymond is roaming around on defense. Damian Lillard blows by Kevin Durant and looks to have an easy bucket at the rim but Draymond quickly peels off of his guy and cleanly rejects Lillard at the rim. Peak Draymond defending.
Getting into the second game, Draymond’s reaction time and anticipation is shown yet again, as he sees the pass coming into the paint area, he turns around and promptly denies ANOTHER would be easy shot at the rim.
One ability Draymond rarely uses but he’s very good at doing is getting to the rim and finishing strong. Green turns the corner effectively then absorbs body contact from Aminu and gets his shot off cleanly.
Once again, Green effectively puts the rock on the floor and gets to the rim. Draymond wastes no time doing so either, after instantly recognizing the mismatch with Mason Plumlee on him. All basketball players should be decisive in everything they do, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a player more decisive than Green is.
When Draymond has the ball in his hand, it’s almost as if he’s playing a game of ISpy. I spy an open three, I take an open three. I spy a mismatch, I attack said mismatch. On this play here, it’s I spy an open cutter, I hit the open cutter with a pass. As soon as he picked his head up and saw him free, Draymond zipped a great pass to Thompson for an easy layup. Deadly game of ISpy.
This is just bully ball here from Draymond. The last mismatch he got was lumbering big man Mason Plumlee, someone he could easily blow by. This time he gets switched onto a mismatch with a guard, someone he could flat out bulldoze to the rim, and he does just that. Green easily makes his way to the rim where he simply finishes over the smaller, overmatched defender, easy money.
Game #3, Game 7 in the NBA Finals aka the game of Draymond Green’s life. If the Warriors won this game, Green undoubtedly would have won Finals MVP off the strength of this crazy performance. Here, Draymond does a great job staying active without the ball on this play, first setting a screen for Steph Curry, then rolling off his screen to the rim for a wide open slam.
Draymond was almost followed the Warriors’ philosophy of ball movement and unselfishness to a fault here, passing up a wide open three for himself to pass to a Harrison Barnes who originally was open, albeit with LeBron James quickly closing in. Luckily, Barnes passes it back to Green and Green bangs the three.
Draymond doesn’t have the most advanced handle, but he does know how to effectively string together dribbles to get to his intended spot. Draymond uses the spin move to get Jefferson to commit to the right, then uses a abrupt crossover to the left to take advantage of Jefferson’s commitment and get an easy layup at the rim. Big time ISO bucket from someone who rarely ever is put in the predicament to do so.
If you know how to move without the ball, good things will come your way, and Draymond knows that. Draymond shifts slightly to the right, using the screen to his advantage, then receives the pass from Iggy and nails the open three.
Again, moving without the ball brings Draymond good things, and that good thing was a wide open 3 pointer. Draymond fakes setting a screen for Steph Curry and quickly dashes to the wide open spot on the perimeter at the top of the key and hits his 5th three pointer (on 5 attempts) in the first half.
Draymond tries to find a pass out of the post, but after realizing there were no options, Draymond catches an off guard JR Smith with a nifty spin move to the baseline and finishes through the foul for a big and-1.
Being the pest that he is on defense, Draymond Green hounds LeBron James in the post and successfully pries the ball away and gives the explosive Warriors offense another possession in a pivotal Game 7.
This time Draymond Green’s movement without the ball doesn’t open up something for Green specifically, instead giving a perfect cutting lane for Harrison Barnes. Draymond delivers a stellar bounce pass and Barnes gets an easy slam at the rim.
Draymond Green does a great job attacking the paint after receiving the ball on the screen and sucking the defense in, effectively opening up a passing lane to a wide open Harrison Barnes for a go ahead three pointer.
Draymond does a great job lulling LeBron to sleep by slowly dribbling backwards, then takes advantage of a flat footed James and gets a very easy layup. Draymond reached deep in his bag of craftiness to try to win this Game 7.
I spy a wide open Klay Thompson. Draymond Green puts a great deal of mustard behind this pass in order to successfully get the pass to Thompson, leading to a big shot for the Warriors.
Remember when I said Draymond’s offensive rebounds tend to come in clutch late game situations? Here’s an example of it. Steph Curry blows the layup, but Draymond asserts his way into the paint and get a huge tip in layup to push the score to a two possession lead.
The last game we’ll be looking at is the first triple double with points being one of the doubles. Rebounds, Assists, Steals, with 5 blocks to match. Here, Draymond once again uses his great anticipation and basketball IQ, pulling off his man and going to the paint after spotting Tony Allen rolling to the rim and successfully blocked his shot. No. Free. Buckets.
Draymond goes up strong and snatches the rebound, then pushes the ball up the floor and finds a wide open Klay Thompson in the corner for an easy transition 3. Push the pace, Golden State.
When opportunity strikes, Draymond answers. Tony Allen’s hustle backfires, as Draymond Green effortlessly swipes Allen’s errant pass and once again pushes the pace in transition and finds Thompson for an almost identical corner three ball from the last gif.
Active hands is the name of the game for Draymond Green, as he successfully comes around the back of Marc Gasol to poke the ball loose, then knocks the ball out of Gasol’s reach for good with his second reach in. Stay active at all times.
Stay. Active. At. All. Times. Green slides over and successfully gets his hand into the passing lane, sparking a fast break for Golden State.
Draymond Green is known for not allowing easy baskets at the rim, but in this game he was particularly feisty about allowing anything for free. VC tries to deliver a simple pass into the post, but Green skies over Randolph to knock the pass away and get the steal.
Draymond Green hawked this block from a mile away, patiently waiting for the layup attempt to go up, just to violently block it out of bounds exactly as the Grizzly goes up with the shot. Cruel, just cruel.
Just like when he has a big man on him on offense, when he is guarding a big man, Draymond smells blood. For a guy with active hands like Draymond Green, you can’t afford to have a loose handle trying to put the ball on the floor, but Gasol has exactly that. Just as Gasol begins to dribble, Draymond simply swipes the ball away for another steal. Easy pickings.
Again, loose handle + Draymond Green = steal. Marc Gasol tries to make a miracle happen with the shot clock winding down but once again Draymond simply picked his pocket, then took the ball all the way to the rack for the transition slam.
It’s like clockwork for Draymond. He sees a guy rolling to the rim, pulls off his guy, then emphatically deny his shot at the rim. This is why it’s so difficult to run a smooth offense against Golden State. Even when they try to have good off ball movement, Draymond Green is there with the ever watchful eye, ruthlessly taking away any and everything good opposing offenses try to pull off.
For most players, the most logical pass and the pass that would’ve likely been made was to Kevin Durant, who was right next to Draymond. But Draymond uses his vision to find someone more open than Durant, Klay Thompson just patiently waiting to snipe a 3, which he does here exactly. Great look from Green for the assist.
If you’re gonna try to work in the post against Draymond Green, you better be Hakeem Olajuwon level. Well maybe not that extreme, but you better at least be Joel Embiid/Karl Anthony-Towns level, because you aren’t doing anything down low if you aren’t extremely good in the post. Example at hand, Tony Allen tries to throw up a turnaround layup and Draymond Green simply denied him. Thanks for trying, try again next time.
Draymond’s court vision comes in handy again. He’s guarding Zach Randolph, but he spots a backdoor cut with his peripheral vision and jumps in the passing lane and gets yet another steal.
This is just an absurd bounce pass from Draymond Green. Working from the low post, Green spots Durant rolling to the rim and squeezes the perfect pass to Durant, leading Durant for an easy and-1 slam.
Mad shaky, Marc Gasol. You can not be loose with the ball around Draymond. How did he not learn that about 4 or 5 steals ago????? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. Maybe Marc Gasol is insane.
This is the rare occasion that Draymond Green gives up an offensive rebound. He clearly wasn’t happy it happened, as Green turns around and rejects Gasol at the rim. Marc Gasol really thought he was gonna get an easy putback layup. That’s laughable.
This is just opportunistic defense from Draymond Green. He sees the Grizzlies player driving to the rim to his right, which means the ball will be in the perfect place to attempt a steal, and Green does just that. Run ya pockets dog.
With the Finals quickly approaching, hopefully the importance of Draymond Green to the Warriors is now evident. I’ll leave you guys with one last statement, if the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Finals, Draymond Green will win Finals MVP because of the things displayed in this article.