Dub Nation: What does it mean for Draymond Green to be Draymond Green?
A fun question posed by DNHQ during a tumultuous start to Golden State's season.
The Golden State Warriors are currently in a funk the likes of which feel like strange new territory for the Splash Bros era.
They’re blowing leads left and right, struggling to find cohesion in Coach Kerr’s tenth year of coaching the team, and have simply been outclassed on some bad nights. Like last night when they got destroyed 133-118 in San Francisco by the Toronto Raptors. That’s the 15 win Raptors, which makes them at the time of this writing one of only 11 NBA teams with a worst record than the Dubs. Tough night.
Needless to say, emotions range from “this is not good but let’s see how it shakes out” to “fire and trade everyone immediately”.
After all these years of fandom, I’m glad my heart can still be stirred by the results of the Bay’s team taking another journey around the calendar. Golden State’s hoops pedigree is high class, with a psychic connection to their fans forged by a raging hot fusion of love, pain, and bacon wrapped hotdogs outside of Oracle Arena by BART. And let’s not forget their beautiful style of shooting was powerful enough to change the game forever.
That means there’s a parade of franchises and cities salivating over the looming downfall of the Golden Empire. Dub Nation got a taste of it after the Warriors failed to finish their legendary 2016 season with a championship. We were immersed in it by it after Kevin Durant left the Dubs in 2019 and the Warriors missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Both of those major events in Golden State lore have, fairly or unfairly, been assigned primarily to the shoulders of one Draymond Green.
Thinking back to that old ‘16 season, I do recall that Green really told the world that it was his fault that the Warriors lost the title that year.
Let’s be clear that the path of suspension was dubious enough that disgraced former NBA ref Tim Donaghy felt compelled to make this quote:
“I think when you look at the overt acts that Green has committed before, they were definitely more severe than this act, and yet he’s going to end up with a flagrant foul and suspension because of it,” Donaghy said, via SI Now. “In the past, I believe it was disregarded because (the Warriors) were down in the series. Here, they’re up in the series, so I think it’s a situation where, with that, it gives Cleveland a better chance of prolonging the series.”
But at the end of the day, Green took responsibility for what he called LeBron James coaxing him into behavior that would give the NBA a reason to suspend him that June in the most contentious championship serious in modern basketball history.
To his credit, Green responded strongly on the basketball court. The Dubs may have lost 93-89 and gave Cleveland their signature championship moment (pardon me while I grit my teeth), but Green went to work.
He rose to the challenge, collecting 32 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and only 2 turnovers. He shot a fantastic 11-of-15 from the field, burying a Klay Thompsian 6-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc. He even went a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
That moment solidified why it was only a month prior to that hellacious series that there was legitimate conversation that Green was the league’s best all around player.
Ben Golliver’s Sports Illustrated piece was penned during the height of Golden State’s 73-win tour-de-force that May. This was before they were stunned in that aforementioned Game 7 and gave Kevin Durant all the fuel he needed to assimilate into the Golden Empire.
This piece encapsulated what an impact Prime Draymond Green’s efforts had on the Dubs, and how they set the stage for him becoming the future Hall-of-Famer and in-demand pundit that he is today.
Watching Green direct such an overwhelming offense and such a stifling defense was a sight to behold, and it was enough to lead one of his teammates to crown him with quite the superlative.
“Draymond is huge for us,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said after the game. “His playmaking ability, his defensive ability. He's probably the best all-around player in the league at this point.”
When the sentiment was later relayed to Green, he said he was “comfortable” with the praise but not so comfortable that he was going to toot his own horn.
“I think there's a lot of great all-around players in the game,” he said. “You'll never hear me call myself that, but [if] they are going to call me that, I'll take it. I'm not going to shy away from it.”
Well written! This article was clearly before SI’s alleged shenanigans in deploying AI (artificial intelligence) to churn out their pieces like the machines in the Matrix.
This piece makes an argument that wonderfully combines the eye test with some fascinating metrics from that day, where by the end of it I could see 2016 version Daniel Hardee saying something like, “Well he’s not better than Steph Curry but maybe he’s 1B to Steph’s 1A”.
Here’s the five arguments Golliver offered at the time:
1. Green has a gigantic impact on both sides
2. The Warriors dominate when Green is on the court
3. Green is a triple-double machine
4. Green’s full stat line defies easy comparison
5. Green pairs easily with all types
Pairs easily with all types, eh? Green is known to be a beloved teammate and force multiplier for nuclear scorers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. He’s a people connector (when he’s not connecting his paws across the side of their head like prime Ken Shamrock).
I fondly recall the widely believed story that Green called KD venting in the parking lot immediately after Game 7, demanding he join the Dubs to get vengeance on King James:
I think it’s pretty clear that Green took his miscue personally and tried to make amends by leaving it all on the floor on the Cavs in G7. And he definitely had a helping hand in Golden State attracting KD into a dynastic dream. That’s what I call making up for big mistake!
The Warriors would even go on to come within two victories from winning three straight NBA Finals trophies with KD. Still, I can’t help but wonder how much Dub Nation’s heartstrings hold Green partially responsible for the superstar KD leaving the Bay without another run at it.
Remember Durant telling Stephen A. Smith that Green’s behavior towards him in one unfortunate argument played a small part in why KD wanted to leave? In terms of basketball drama, their interactions towards the tail end of Durant’s run were must see TV.
But the part that really resonates with me in that whole brouhaha is Green declaring that the Warriors had won without KD and would win with him again. I’d bet that’s a tough thing for a hooper as ridiculously dominant as is KD on the court to have to hear from a goshdarn teammate.
And yet Green was more than vindicated for that hard to swallow sentiment when he was a driving force as Golden State won their fourth championship of the Splash Bros era, and their second without the Slim Reaper. Green’s ring count graduated from the Larry Bird tier and moving closers towards Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan.
I’d say Green more than did his part to help the Warriors win in a post-KD world. He responded in championship fashion, as champions do.
That’s why I’m really interested to see how much his return from his most recent suspension can help the Warriors look like champions again. Can he make it do what it do yet again, or have the basketball gods put too many miles on his body and heartbreaks on his spirit to keep him from being the same gutsy menace who once dared to go chest to chest with Prime Bron Bron with basketball immortality on the line?
Now he been out here experimenting finishing moves on European centers.
If there was ever a time to tune in to what the “raging against the dying light” version of Green’s career might resemble, it’s really looking like right now. I’m all in on the Green experience; but what is reasonable to expect of him at this point? Here’s a cliche: the Warriors need Dray to be Dray. The question is, what does that look like now with the spotlight squarely on him in case he acts outlandish?
Grab your popcorn folks, the drama continues.