Draymond Green, perhaps the NBA’s most unique big man since Dennis Rodman and unique arguably since Rajon Rondo, has been seen as the heartbeat of the Golden State Warriors. Green is known for his ability to be too small to be a big man but too big to be a small forward. He parlayed his deficiency to become one of the NBA’s best defenders, passers, and rebounders. But what stands out the most about Green is his mentality toward the game. Green’s mental capabilities have allowed him to get the edge on opponents, who can’t overlook his strengths; power, intelligence and his relentless pursuit of excellence.
The Warriors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 124-121, thanks in part to a key defensive play by Green. Green was guarding Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo on an inbound play, and he tipped the pass going his direction for a Warriors steal.
After the game, ESPN.com posted a Green quote when he was asked about opponents trying to score on him in crunch time.
“If opposing teams are in need of a game-winning basket, stay away from Draymond Green Island. He won’t take too kindly to your scoring attempts in his vicinity.
“‘Definitely,’ Green said. ‘I think that’s disrespectful to me. I take that as disrespect. Don’t go at me for game. And of course I’ll say that, and next game [they’ll] get game or something, but whatever.’ “
Maybe another tall task for NBA team’s during crunch time is to keep in mind how smart Green is as a player. For someone to be ranked in the top 10 in assists and top 20 in rebounding as a tweener, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft a play that probably hasn’t been ran in the game. Green also quoted that he knew what play was being run, so he capitalized.
“Green felt disrespected that the Bucks would target him by going to the player he was guarding, so he made sure to make them pay with a game-saving defensive play.
“‘I already knew what play they were running,’ Green said. ‘They have two plays that they run in situations like that. Once Giannis was down on the block, I already knew what they were running, so I was just waiting on them to pass the ball in. I wanted to make it tough and make Tony Snell think about it. I knew once he thought about it that he would throw the lob pass. Then I just went after the ball.'”
Green also had to watch his play and was keenly aware with his relationship with NBA officials.
“‘Nah, because I was on the side of him,’ Green said. ‘If they were going to call it, there really isn’t nothing I can do about it.'”
Either way, Green’s instincts on the NBA court helped the Warriors come out with a victory. Although his scoring production has dipped from the previous year, Green is still a triple double threat every night. Green is averaging 10.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 6.8 assists. He’s also shooting just under 41 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three. All of the aforementioned stats are down from the 14/9.5/7.4/49/39 percent stat-line Green put up last season, but one major reason for that is Green taking a back seat from the third option to the fourth option due to the addition of scoring dynamo Kevin Durant.
Granted, it’s still very early in the season, and Green has ample opportunity to improve his stats. But, what remains the same is his mental aspect, offensive wizardry and his defensive tenacity, which helped the Warriors win Saturday night.
Draymond Green and the Warriors face off against the Indiana Pacers Monday night, November 21.
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]