Since the Golden State Warriors began their current winning ways in 2013, I try not to miss them whenever they are in town. I love watching the Warriors, the NBA’s assists leader (30.3 apg). They move the ball better than any other pro club. The last team I remember dishing the ball around so selflessly was the New York Knicks of the 1970s.
I watch the Warriors not because of Steph Curry, whose stratospheric shooting range made him the first NBA player ever to hit at least 200 three-pointers in six consecutive seasons. Nor do I watch them for Curry’s backcourt mate Klay Thompson, who last week joined Curry with six straight 200 treys seasons. And not for Kevin Durant, who routinely scores 30 points or more.
No, I watch the Warriors for just one player: Draymond Green, now in his sixth season, all with Golden State. Although a couple of generations apart, we both have similar ties: We both hail from Michigan (Green from Saginaw and this reporter from down south – Detroit). Both also are Michigan State alums.
The 6’-7” forward in late February became the second-ever NBA player to record the following career numbers: 4,000 points, 3,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists, 600 steals and 400 blocks in 450 or fewer games. Green did it in 449 career games. He led the Warriors in assists (seven) and steals (three) in a six-point loss Sunday against Minnesota, the team’s first defeat this season to the Wolves.
Green – not Curry, Thompson or Durant – is the straw that stirs the Warriors.
The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year reminds me of Dennis Rodman (the Detroit Pistons’ Rodman, not the multi-color-haired, post-Pistons Rodman), who could guard all five positions – Green can do the same. Both players also can get on their opponents’ last nerves with their on-court antics as well. Many are bothered by Green’s behavior, but not this reporter.
Yes, Green gets too many technicals (15), but he only has three more than Durant (12) and no one is calling KD too emotional. Some still blame him for the Warriors not winning the 2015-16 title because he sat out game six, having reached the technicals limit, but few talk about how hard he played in the seventh and deciding game against Cleveland.
When a reporter asked him, referring to the 15th technical he got last Friday, if this would make him change, the three-time All-Star promised, “No.”
“He gives us our emotional edge,” Golden State Coach Steve Kerr told the MSR on Green’s importance to his club. “He passes, defends and rebounds, a tremendous all-around player.”
Speaking to reporters after Sunday’s loss, Green refused to make excuses, such as the Warriors playing without two key players – Curry (a tweaked right ankle) and Andre Iguodala (sprained left wrist) – as well as a poor shooting afternoon by Thompson (8-for-22). “They [the Wolves] made more plays down the stretch than we did,” he simply said.
“It’s tough when you are missing so many key guys,” Green did point out. “I think those guys will get back in time for us to find the rhythm we need [for the playoffs]. We are trying to win games and get better no matter who’s on the floor.”
As the two Spartan alums and Michigan natives fist-bumped each other, Green said, “I try to be an all-around player.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.