Whether he’s exposing the opponent’s vulnerabilities or filling part of the Warriors’ coaching void, Green has been money
OAKLAND — After the Golden State Warriors clinched the No. 1 overall seed, Draymond Green played the remaining games of the regular season with a “just wait for the playoffs” vibe. Through five postseason games, he’s shown what he was holding back as Green’s game has flourished, tangibly and otherwise.
He’s shooting 52 percent from 3-pointers on 25 attempts. He’s averaging 9.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 3.8 blocks per game — all of which represent a slight uptick from his regular season numbers.
But what’s more shocking: He’s doing even more on the floor, which can’t be easy after playing 76 games as a leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
“I don’t even know how it was possible, his activity has gone up another notch or two — especially defensively,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice on Wednesday.
On offense, he’s playing with an understanding of the game that’s allowed him to outscore Klay Thompson — a notorious gunner — three times.
The average fan can see his impact when he sets a pindown screen for one of the Splash Brothers. When the defender helps off Green, he opens his body to the ball handler, catches in the paint and attacks the basket. Those kind of high-efficiency looks could make the Warriors even more dangerous on offense.
Here are a couple examples of how Green gets from up high to easier shots in the paint, either by exploiting a mismatch after a switch or by slipping a screen and getting into space:
If you can’t help off of Green — even slightly — to keep Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson uncomfortable on the perimeter, what can you hope to take away?
Brown said the Warriors like it when Green assumes the position at the top of the paint, where a point guard would typically line up on offense, because it allows him to shoot if he’s open, drive if the defense is caught shifting or swing the ball to one of the team’s many shooters.
Illustrating that point, here was his prettiest assist of Game 1 against the Jazz:
Loving all these highlights from game 1 ☔️ pic.twitter.com/uA3snEGcYP
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) May 3, 2017
“When you’re playing the same opponent — four or five, six, seven times — you kinda figure out what you’re gonna get and you try to take advantage of those things of what the defense is going to give you,” Green explained. “But you also can’t let the moment get away from you.”
Letting the moment get away from him cost the Warriors a championship last year when Green let his passion bubble over, leading to an untimely one-game suspension in the NBA Finals. This year, Green has been making a concerted effort to harness his emotions. At this point in the 2016 playoffs, he had two technicals and was en route to five total: He’s determined to not let that repeat.
“You learn from things and you grow. You don’t make the same mistake twice,” he said.
Instead of wasting his energy on the officials, Green has channeled it toward helping the second unit thrive.
The group of Green, Thompson, David West, Ian Clark and Andre Iguodala has appeared in all five games and is scoring an efficient 19.2 points per game despite playing just 8.5 minutes with each other. They’re shooting 52 percent from the floor and 47.8 from deep. They produced all this with a pair of MVPs — Curry and Kevin Durant — sitting on the bench watching. On the other side of the floor, opponents are shooting 40 percent and averaging 15.9 turnovers per 48 minutes.
When Steve Kerr was forced away from the sideline due to a recurrence of the debilitating side effects from a back surgery two years ago, everyone had to step up. And the veteran trio of Green, West and Iguodala have taken it upon themselves to become more vocal and crucial to the coaching process, according to Brown.
“We need that, especially from guys like them,” Clark said.
MIKE BROWN JOKE OF THE DAY
Brown took the opportunity to needle his boss about that fact after practice on Wednesday:
— jacob c. palmer (@jacobc_palmer) May 3, 2017