Bonta Hill: Love him or hate him, you know you love Draymond Green

If Draymond Green is not playing for your favorite team, odds are you can’t stand his guts. You spew obscenities his direction every chance you get, or at the very least, want to punch him in the face.

That’s unfortunate, because Green is a student of the game, an undersized forward who can guard one through five — a rarity even in today’s increasingly-positionless NBA — and like it or not, Green is bound for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Don’t believe me? His head coach certainly thinks so, and he played with the likes of Scottie Pippin, Dennis Rodman and some guy who sold a hell of a lot of shoes.

“The guy has huge energy, amazing defense, incredible basketball intellect. He’s a future Hall of Famer,” head coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors finished off the New Orleans Pelicans. “He’s right in his prime right now, but this guy is the perfect modern-day NBA big. He can guard everybody, he can step out and make threes, he can handle the ball in transition. This is what the NBA has become, and you have to have somebody like Draymond to have a good team. So, we’re lucky to have him.”

A lot of fans and skeptics get caught up in his boisterous chats with officials and opponents, and that’s unfortunate because of the run he’s having in the 2018 postseason.

Green is averaging a career-best 11.3 rebounds heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. He’s already produced three games with 17-plus rebounds, including his 17 in Game 3 to help the Warriors take a 2-1 lead against the Houston Rockets.

“Oh, my gosh, Draymond, there is nobody like him, honestly,” Kerr gushed on Monday. “I don’t know another player who is like Draymond in this league. His ability to impact the game in so many ways, defensively, getting out on Harden and Paul and switching, and rebounding, and staying on [Rockets center Clint] Capela’s legs, trying to knock the ball away on the lobs and protect the rim without fouling. Draymond is just a tremendous defender. I thought his performance [in Game 3] was unreal.”

Sure, the points and shooting numbers are down (11.7 on 40.8 percent shooting from the floor), but he’s still averaging 8.5 assists and quarterbacking the best defense in the postseason.

So far in the Western Conference Finals, Capela’s effectiveness has been minimized by the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, especially when it comes to keeping him off the boards.

Capela, who averaged 14.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in the first two rounds, has been limited to a quiet 10 points and 8 rebounds and 1 block a game in this series.

“His box-outs in this series has been amazing,” Kerr said of Green on Monday. “Capela is there every play and Draymond finds a way to box him out, and still get his hands on the ball or redirect it to a teammate. Finishing a possession is such a big part of the defense. It’s not just field goal percentage defense, that’s a good indicator, but keeping them off the offensive glass is a big deal, too.”

Green, 28, is coming off of a series in which he averaged a triple-double — 14.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game against the Pelicans — and is the first player in franchise history to do so.

Green, a second-round pick in 2012, has no doubt has proven a lot of haters wrong, defying the odds to become a three-time NBA All-Star, but the notion that he wouldn’t excel on another NBA team seems quite preposterous.

Even Charles Barkley — who gets annoyed by Green — admitted to Greg Papa and I on 95.7 The Game that he’d love him as a teammate. Why wouldn’t you? He’s a big reason why the Warriors are the Warriors.

Certainly, you worry about the technical fouls and the constant chirping. He pushes a fine line with the officials, but that’s who he is. He plays on the edge and with the same chip that he’s had since entering the NBA.

Green is the type of player that’d make any team he’s on better. His basketball acumen is underrated. His understanding of team defense is up there with the all-time best defenders the NBA has ever seen.

I’ve run out of adjectives trying to describe Green. Love him or hate him, at the end of the day, he’s a flat-out baller, one that many teams — and many fans — would love to have.

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By John Krolik Special to The Examiner