By Kyle Heise | @KyleHeise
With a cast of unprecedented talent, the Warriors are the team to beat regardless of last year’s result (and there will be more to come on this later). And with this current collection of Warriors players from Iguadola to Klay to Step and now KD-- my favorite player is Draymond Green. For as much as Steph can dazzle me with his on-ball pirouettes where his balance is so off kilter that getting a shot off, let alone draining a three, is beyond comprehension; or Klay’s catch and release that is more kill than conservation; or KD’s lanky body that trebuchets the ball over his defenders worse than medieval warlords; for as much as the Warriors exhibit basketball’s finesse at its optimum, I still prefer Green’s arduous defensive rate and his unselfish play. Safe to say I love him because he's the fire of the best team in the league. Draymond cleans up the trash. He has help too. He in know way can exhibit so much emotion on the court without winning. He’s also a target because of it. So before the play-offs begin, I’d like to offer some unrestrained thoughts on Mr. Draymond Green. These are some observations from this season and some of the previous post-season as well as what to come. (Excuse the banal approach to making a list, your author hopes you can see beyond the simplicity of it.)
1-Rarely does a player control the tempo of a team that is not their best player or their point guard. Rarely do the reigning MVPs listen when a role player threatens. We see it with Draymond Green. When Draymond speaks people seem to listen. Let’s start with that. Next point.
2- He's cerebral. He will probably be a phenomenal coach, and if not: a better pundit that most of those who currently ridicule him. (Most geniuses had a quirk, an oddness to them-- violent, passive, socially inept whatever) There was a game early on this season where the Dubs got beat by the Grizzlies. The game was an early lesson on game management, the 4th quarter in particular. Towards the end of the loss, Green and KD got into a visible verbal tussle. The spat appeared intense from TV. When asked after the game about what transpired, KD admitted that Draymond was just telling him the correct thing to do. That Draymond had seen a stagnation in the offense that was contributing to the team’s poor effort. In the following video, KD concurs with Draymond:
Here they are talking again:
3-He's a counter to the guard heavy league. Draymond is the antithesis of today’s NBA. He’s not a scorer. He’s a provider. In today’s game, beyond Lebron, one seldom sees this performed night in and night out by a forward. Show me another team that let’s it 6’7’’ forward play top. Show me another team that has a 6’7’’ forward capable of passing like Draymond.
3a. He doesn’t fit a position. On most possessions he plays point guard on offense but runs the floor with the big man on D. But against another opponent he’ll D-up the swing-man and then play pick-n-roll on offense, where he’s the buttery roll.
4-In a league where the King is soft, Draymond’s player types should be celebrated. Pundits who revel in the 80s should take note.The softness of today’s NBA is detrimental to the ferocity and fervor of a player like Green. Green is doing his best to make it a man's league again. The raw emotion that players show on a nightly basis in the NBA is tantamount to all other sports. It’’s hidden behind a facemask in football and shunned by traditionalists in baseball. Night in and night out NBA players are scrutinized from every angle in the NBA. Nothing on the court goes unnoticed these days and nearly everything that happens on the court can be retroactively cited as a dubious penalty or a flagrant foul. And with Draymond we’ve seen that come back and haunt him. Albeit the NBA has a history of outspoken players and it’s field of flapping yaps, when Draymond speaks his mind the ears listen. He's the loudest and faces the fire. We have a king who cowers. He's isn't afraid to challenge.
5- Green has made five defensive plays in the last minute of one-possession games that have helped seal victories this season. Game stealers are as good as game winners.
6- In league full of egos, he's a team player. Sure, he has an ego but one must in a dog eat dog league. He’s a prolific passer for his size and usually prefers a pass to a shot. And beyond that ego is a compassionate man. E.g. He made the largest single player alumni donation back to Michigan State in the school’s history. This lion’s got a heart in there somewhere. He’s known to keep in contact with his college coach, Tom Izzo. Izzo is legendary in his own right, but his praise for Draymond is high. Izzo acknowledges Green’s tenacity, sheer will to win, and that he might be the smartest player on the court. The two still exchange game plans for Michigan State. He’s cerebral. And he’s lucky to have Izzo as a mentor.
7-He scored the first triple double w/o points this season. And. Like. Ever. In. History.
8-Dray has the audacity to hit Lebron when he was a flagrant foul away from suspension during the NBA Finals. Stupid obviously, but didn’t we all want someone to do it? He did what every rational American would think at the time. All the favoring to the Lebron over the years culminated through Draymond’s little wrist flick. It only took this many years for someone to try and break Lebron’s hegemony, his invincibility. Draymond fell for BronBron’s mind game. Kudos to BronBron for eliciting a response that got Green suspended, but don’t tell me the series ended right there.
9- In March, Chris Broussard said that Draymond’s behavior lost the Warriors the 2016 title. He’s not the first to suggest so nor was it his first time doing so. But wow- what hyperbole that is.
Can they really pin one player’s one-game absence on the whole series? How about the cold shooting to start game 5? Or blowing a 14-pt lead at the half in game 7? Draymond scored 32pts, 15 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 7. He missed game 5 not the decisive game 7. There were still two games to be had. If the rest of the players couldn’t rise with the occasion and hold up their teammate, then why are they in the NBA? Seems to me like Green’s ferocity and diehard style are what kept the Warriors from being embarrassed even more. Scapegoating Draymond for losing the series is easy. What’s not easy is calling out the reigning two time MVP for disappearing in the most important game of his life. Draymond has shown he can step up when not just the game, but the season is on the line.
10-His technicals are an indeed issue though. But this is a league wider issue that stretches back years to the league’s poor ruling on technical fouls that began with players like Rasheed Wallace. The Warriors are great. All-time great. Paired with this greatness and the happy-marketable faces of Steph and KD, the Joe Cool-Spicoli-sly demeanor of Klay, and Iguadola’s Tech Ambassador moniker, there had to be a anti-hero. Enter Draymond. The refs need some to patrol. Plus,the NBA pretty much has a de facto law out that wants a cleaner game but instead rewards the flopping and coddling of star players. In today’s game, players like Green and Demarcus Cousins are hunted by the Refs. These guys can’t so much as look at a ref without the ref feeling fear. Just see John Wall’s recent comments about the reffing in the league. It’s nothing new. Refs are human. Humans have biases. And that’s just the way it is. That’s just that way it’s always been.
11-Some say Draymond looks like Donkey from Shrek (as of that’s a good thing). But damn, I think he looks like a big, cuddly man willing to risk it all in order to take our relationship (read: team) to the next level.
12-His tenacity goes back years. I can’t recall the source of these rumours but word on the street is that during his years at Michigan State, Draymond would head to the local pick-up spots and wreck house. He’d bring his fiery personality to the hardened black tops across East Lansing and pick fights. He’d talk shit to cliche old men you find at these locales. Take these with a grain of salt. All I know is that it adds to the man’s aura. I want to believe these stories because they are so perfectly Draymond. I can imagine these pick-up games--hardly even games if they are like any other pick-up league, ya know where they are more tests of spirit than skill-- taking place in the frigid weather of Michigan where it’s cold enough to where the ball embodies truly its nickname: the rock; and where the breaths of each player fill the air and each man’s perspiring skin radiates a fog that gives the whole scene a mystic feel, with that kind of occult haze that emulates a hallowed cemetery at twilight. It’s Hollywood-esque, but then again, isn’t Hollywood like real life? And it’s in these scenarios where champions are born; all the extra hours spent learning tricks and trades from the has-beens and never-wases--what Reggie Miller often calls “old man game”-- that one cannot learn from playing with your peers. These experiences are what culminate into a player like Draymond.
13-The guy's mom don’t take smack either. Remember when she was notorious for trolling fans, refs, and the NBA on Twitter? Prolly good she went awol. At least we got to see where some of the madness stems from.
14-Why’s he always flailing his legs? He always flails his legs like an untamed gymnast on offense trying to draw fouls. It’s totally dramatic folly. It’s totally Draymond. He’s playing into the malarkey permitted by today’s NBA. See this video:
The refs award this kind of play. Lebron does it. Harden does it. Everyone does. But how Draymond does it borders the finest line between fair play and just plain stupid.
15- He believes he can outshoot Steph, Klay, Steve Kerr, and even the Durantula. That fact the he believes, makes me love him even more.
16- Yes, he’s dirty. Myriad youtube vids show this theory’s truths. Show me a team without one of these players? Again, every angle of these guys on the court is scrutinized. Y’ever played for keeps like these guys? Me neither. But I’d def try to pinch a guy or two during a few rebounds for a crown.
17- Watch someone try to post him up. The way he moves his body is textbook perfect. That's how he can roll with the big dogs. It's like that scene in "Finding Forester," he know's where you are going before you do. He plays D with his legs and gets to the spot before his opponent. The last play in that game against the Pelican's was defensive genius. That play where he stripped Anthony Davis as time expired. Drey robbed him straight up. That’s big NBA D.
18-Draymond doesn’t need to change. He’s born from a different era. He’s not bred for the softness of the modern NBA. I’m sure he would have been a catalyst to the bad-boy Detroit Pistons or the fundamentally sound 2004 Champs. He grew up watching these teams and he plays like them.
19- He gonna be DPOY. Anything less will be a conspiracy and we ought to take Adam Silver to the Bastille.
This playoff run is gonna see the Warriors go as far as Draymond pulls the train. Yes, they’ll need everyone to drain their jumpers and contribute, but as Game 1 against Portland showed, Draymond is the central catalyst emotionally and his all-around phenomenal contributions will be the glue that puts all the pieces together.