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'23 Season Review: Draymond Green's season was complicated
He's still a force to be reckoned with both on and off the court, but questions abound about his leadership style and scoring confidence.
To kick off this particular retrospective, I gotta just start with this: Draymond Green has an amazing ability to give basketball fans plenty of entertaining moments to mull over during the lull between seasons.
In 2015 he had the infamous “Yup” rant (fueled by Hennessy and E-40’s song “Choices”) that was the most memorable moment of Golden State’s first championship parade of their current dynasty.
In 2016, he discussed the aftermath of skirmishing with LeBron James and getting suspended for a pivotal NBA Finals game when the 73-win Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.
In 2017, he gave this quote after the Warriors went 16-1 in the playoffs and avenged themselves against the Cavs to win their second championship in three years:
“It’s pretty f*cking sick to see how everybody is just in a f*cking panic about what to do. You sit back and think, like, these motherf*ckers, they know. That’s the fun part about it: They know they don’t stand a chance.”
Funny enough, that’s the quote that inspired me to apply to blog for Golden State of Mind and ascend as the Gold Blooded King, the most homerish, disrespectful blogger in Dub Nation history. I told Nate P., the legendary scribe and site manager for GSOM at the time, that I felt the site needed a more Draymondian voice. He gleefully agreed, and the rest is golden history.
That brings me to the 2019 offseason, where Green discussed the departure of superstar teammate Kevin Durant, who jumped ship after three seasons with the Dubs. KD acknowledging that Green’s words during a spat between the two contributed to the two-time Finals MVP’s departure put a spotlight directly on Green before the next season started:
Green said his suspension caused him to question his standing with the franchise and that he started to tell himself, "Oh my God, the Warriors sided with Kevin Durant."
"I just had to accept the fact that I was wrong," Green said on the podcast. "And once I was able to get over my stubbornness and accept the fact that I was wrong, I was able to move on. I lost [Durant's] trust. How do I get that back? Not so we can win a championship or we can win some games ... but I actually loved this guy, like that's really my brother. And so not knowing what's next in our relationship bothered me more."
There was the 2022 offseason championship parade where Green toggled between sagacious thoughtfulness and aggressive admonishment of all the haters and naysayers who said the Golden Empire would never return to glory. As I recall, the phrases “SHUT UP!” and “F**K EM!” were used to great effect that sunny day in downtown San Francisco:
Several weeks later he’d be caught on cam giving a one-hitter quitter to teammate Jordan Poole in training camp before the season started. Annnnd during this offseason after a troubling loss to the Los Angeles Lakers (LeBron strikes again smh), he’s been featured pretty heavily in NBA podcast circuit and the offseason social media news cycle.
“I think for a second it seemed like I would have to explore other teams and do the thing, but what I will say is Golden State made it very clear to me I was a priority,” Green said. “They made it very clear to me that they wanted to do all that they could for me to still be there and be a part of what we built, and I am a Warrior for the rest of my life. I think that was one of the biggest things for me, is Joe said to me, he said, ‘This is not some contract. You're our partner for the rest of your life.' That was huge for me.”
Dray’s Still A Major Factor
Here’s my last little bit on Green’s massive off-court presence; his personal podcast is now award winning! We here at DNHQ know a thing or two about winning journalism awards, so we can totally relate to the joy Dray must be feeling!
The Draymond Green Show took home the award for Best Sports Podcast. Others nominated were iHeartPodcast’s All The Smoke, The Fantasy Footballers, ESPN’s The Lowe Post, and The Ringer’s The Bill Simmons Podcast.
Green was alerted to the news before the show, with The Volume posting a video of the Golden State Warriors star being told by the company’s founder — Colin Cowherd — that he had won the award.
“That’s insane,” Green said.
“It’s not insane. You’re great, you’ve earned it, you’re coachable, I’m so proud of you,” Cowherd said. “We’re so lucky to have you.”
“I’m honored — quite frankly — to be mentioned with such great hosts, such great shows” Green said. “It’s absolutely incredible. I can’t thank you guys, The Volume, iHeart, our partnership, enough. When I got into this space, I was a little nervous about getting into this space because I’m always worried about losing me in something that I do and not being authentic and true to who I am.
Green continues to take trailblazing strides as a current player using his platform and voice to give insight and disrespect to rivals while still being an active player. Just ask former Memphis Grizzly Dillon Brooks!
Hilarious! But as successful as Green was in his social media exploits, we gotta bring back to where his bread is buttered: HOOPIN!
During a season where the defending champion Warriors were beset by injuries, wavering chemistry, and inconsistent play, Green still shined. He started 73 games, more than any other Warrior. He was second on Golden State in minutes played. He also was second on the team in steals, and led the Dubs in blocked shots.
ESPN ranked Dray 7th overall in Defensive Real Plus-Minus, and his impact was recognized by the league when he was award with a selection on the All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team. Per NBA.com: “Green has been named to the All-Defensive Team in eight of the last nine seasons, earning First Team honors four times (2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2020-21) and Second Team four times (2017-18, 2018-19, 2021-22, 2022-23).
Green’s eight All-Defensive Team selections are tied for 13th most in NBA history, and he becomes the fifth player in NBA history drafted in the second round-or-later to earn eight-or-more All-Defensive Team honors.”
Did you know Green’s eight All-Defensive Team selections are the most in Warriors history, surpassing the great Nate Thurmond’s five?
Here’s some matchup stats for how some high-profile players fared against Green’s defense during the regular season from NBA.com:
Damian Lillard 1-of-7
Jayson Tatum 3-of-9
Karl Anthony-Towns 3-of-10
Russell Westbrook 3-of-10
Zach Lavine 2-of-8
John Collins 0-of-7
Aaron Gordon 3-of-9
Domantas Sabonis 4-of-12
During the playoffs, opponents shot 44.5% from the field against Green, 32.4% from deep. I was particular interested in how he did switching against the guards who were killing Golden State on the perimeter during the postseason; and he did a pretty damn good job!
Malik Monk 4-of-14
De’Aaron Fox 11-of-24
Austin Reaves 2-of-9
His two most high profile big-man matchups were more of a mixed bag. Anthony Davis, a monster and future Hall-of-Famer, went 16-of-29 from the field (55%), while also drawing 7 shooting fouls on Green and going 11-of-13 from the line. Too small, Ernie?
King’s goon Sabonis shot 11-of-18 from the field (61%) on Green, but with only one shooting foul drawn, and a ghastly 7 turnovers
And just for nerdy kicks and giggles, I’ll throw in that Green’s bestie LeBron James shot 7-of-14 on Green in the playoffs, nailing 4-of-7 of his attempts from deep when Green was the primary defender.
Green made some very revealing comments about battling with lost confidence in his offensive game in his appearance on Paul George’s podcast at the 29 minute mark.
He described in detail what deferring for years to the Splash Bros and took away from his scoring mentality and rhythm, leading him to often try to force feed his teammates instead of getting a bucket himself.
During the regular season Green had the highest effective field goal percentage of his career at 57%, partially spurred on by the 61% shooting he had on two-pointers, the best of his 11-year career.
He also led the Warriors in assists with 500, the fifth time in his career he’s had the most total dimes on the team. His ability to quarterback the offense and generate good looks both in both the halfcourt and in transition from the power forward/center position is still elite after all these years. Per Stat Head, there were only three players listed as PF/C that had at least 500 assists last season. Green was one of them:
When the postseason came, Green once again led the Dubs in assists with 6.8 per game. Unfortunately his scoring efficiency didn’t translate to the playoffs, as his eFG% dropped to 49%. Green’s shot chart looked rather suspect, particularly around the rim.
Dray’s leadership with the younger players has come under major scrutiny. He Roy Jones Juniored Poole, and then dropped this video in the aftermath:
He also admittedly didn’t do the best job of leading young lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga.
This was echoed by legendary Bay Area sports reporter Monte Poole:
On Thursday’s edition of 95.7 The Game’s “Steiny & Guru”, longtime Warriors reporter Monte Poole said that Draymond’s lack of a relationship with Kuminga is troublesome.
“It’s a problem and it can only be fixed by Draymond, who has to commit himself to doing that,” Poole told Matt Steinmetz and Daryle ‘The Guru’ Johnson. “Honestly, at this point, we’re not sure that he’s ready to do that. They’ve signed him to a new contract, which implies that they believe he can and will. But I think there are a lot of people over there thinking, ‘Let’s wait and see how this plays out. Around the league, there are a lot more people saying, ‘I don’t know.’ We’re gonna find out.”
He also got ejected and suspended in the playoffs AGAIN (with circumstances admittedly being debatable):
Some folks, both inside and out of Dub Nation may feel like Green’s antics have worn thin, and his impact on the court has declined to the point that his hefty contract and voice on the team are major issues.
But not me buddy. When the Warriors needed him to deliver in that big Game 5 against Sacramento with the series tied 2-2, he balled out. He roared back from his suspension with a champion’s vigor, tallying 21 points, 7 assists, and 4 steals off of the bench to help the Dubs take control of a series they would eventually win in seven grueling games.
He’s still got it folks!
I’ll close with a series of quotes from Green’s coach Steve Kerr and former GM Bob Myers:
“Draymond is incredibly competitive and passionate and fiery,” coach Kerr said. “He’s helped us win four championships. I’ve said it many times: We don’t have a single championship without Draymond Green. That’s the truth.
“He’s crossed the line over the years. That’s part of it. He’s the ultimate competitor – the ultimate warrior, winner, champion. There’s no stopping Draymond. You’re not going to be able to put your arm around him and calm him down and say, ‘OK, let’s move forward.’ It doesn’t work that way. It’s OK. We accept Draymond for who he is and what he stands for and his competitiveness and his fire because, frankly, we feed on that. It helps us win.”
“He’s a force. He’s unique. He’s a leader,” GM Bob Myers said. “But he will tell you that he’s made mistakes. He can’t hide from them. They’re out there for everybody to see. He’s got a good heart. He does. I know that. But that doesn’t mean he’s mistake-free. I’m not. Nobody is.
“But as far as I can see, he’s a good husband, a good father. He’s been good to his teammates. He made a mistake with a teammate. I hadn’t seen him do anything like that to a teammate before.
“If you want to talk about what he’s done for the organization, that’s not up for dispute. He’s helped us. Without him, we probably don’t have any of the championships. He’s a complicated guy, for sure.”
As I get older, I learn more and more that life can certainly be complicated. But being successful definitely helps make it all work out. I believe Green will absolutely help the Warriors win again in the future, with his bombastic personality leading the way.
Or he’ll be suspended for life for bodyslamming Victor Wembamyama through an announce table next year in front of a horrified Gregg Popovich? LIFE’S COMPLICATED!