There are many words you can use to describe Golden State’s annoyingly talkative forward Draymond Green, but “overrated” is not one of them.
You can call him a trash-talker, a loudmouth, donkey, or a smart-ass Dennis Rodman wannabe.
But the days when you can slap the words “overpaid”, “overrated,” and “sidekick” on this 25-year-old is apparently over.
As of this season, Green is a bonafide star.
He’s a true baller deserving to stand among his teammates in the Warriors’ victorious platform.
Last offseason, when Green and the Warriors agreed on a 5-year/$82 million contract, many fans questioned the club’s sanity because of the deal.
Cries echoed that once the deal was inked, the Bay Area club would have allotted a huge chunk of its salary cap to an undersized forward that, without his star teammates, will crumble to being mediocre.
They said that his triple-double performance on their title-clinching Game 6 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers last season was a fluke, and that it was just merely because his teammates were hot and making their shots.
But in reality, it was just a matter of time from happening.
In the years before Steve Kerr was handed the key to Golden State’s system, Green was just another piece of the puzzle. Classified as a tweener forward, he played behind the likes of Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and David Lee, finding it hard to shine while sharing small minutes with a loaded frontcourt.
But upon Kerr’s appointment as head coach, the former Chicago Bulls star saw something lacking in the Warriors’ lineup. He saw that the team, while already a good offensive side, did not have versatility on both sides of the floor.
He did something that took balls to do. He started Green and Barnes, and told Iguodala and Lee, both former All-Star players, to come off the bench.
And what good did it do? The Dubs only became the NBA champs of the 2014-2015 season.
With Green and Barnes, a pair who can defend more than three positions, they have achieved that on-court versatility. With Lee and Iggy coming off the pine, the Warriors did not lose experienced production whenever the starters sit.
It was Green’s versatility that allowed Kerr to try this lineup, and it opened up to more possibilities for their offense.
As expected with a man who played with the team-oriented San Antonio Spurs and the high-octane Phoenix Suns, Kerr installed a system heavy on passing not just from guards, but for forwards and centers too.
And because Green, who has always been a good passer, can now handle the ball for the Warriors, Curry can spend less time setting up plays and enjoy receiving screens and torching the opponents with his catch-and-shoot three pointers.
SOLDIER IN NAME, STAR AT HEART
It won’t matter anymore when you call him an MSU Spartan, or a Golden State Warrior. Green will play his heart out while talking shit on you.
In his senior year in college, Green was already showing the flashes of his current Swiss-army knife capabilities, as he averaged 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per match in 37 games for Michigan State University.
In his fourth NBA season and his second as a starter, Green is averaging career bests across the board. He is norming a per-game line of 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists per game while shooting 46.3% from the field and 41.7% from deep.
In 15 fixtures from December 5 to January 5, Green’s all-around performance finally found its way to the stat sheet, as he averaged around 18 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and shot 47% from the field including 47% from three in that stretch.
Reigning MVP, Stephen Curry, has been sizzling this season, probably on his way to his 2nd MVP award. But with Green anchoring both the team’s offense (leading the team in rebounds and assists per game) and defense, it kind of makes him as significant as Curry to the team’s well-being.
The likes of Curry, Thompson and Iggy might be the offensive punch, but without Green trying to make it all happen, the Warriors will certainly miss more than half of its zest and spirit.
As he has shown now, Green is not overrated. If anything, he is now the complete opposite. He has proven his caliber. Now it is just growing in his mold.
Green went from the 35th pick of the 2012 draft to being a backup, to being the starter, to being the star’s sidekick.
Who knows, in time, maybe he can be the superstar himself.
— Roland Quilente (contributor)
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roland.quilente