Golden State Warriors: Is Draymond Green the Defensive Player of the Year?
By Josh Morgan: VP and Director of Content
For the past few years the Warriors have been good defensive play away from their goals. First it was making the playoffs during Stephen Curry’s first two years in the league then it was advancing deeper in the post season as their defense started to improve ever so slightly. During the regular season last year Golden State finished 10th in the league in points allowed per game and were showing marked improvement from years past. Then Andrew Bogut got hurt and missed the entire seven game series against the Clippers in which they would allow 110 points per game. This season may finally be the year they get over that hump however, even if Bogut can’t stay healthy, thanks to one player: Draymond Green. Sure this is too much to put on just one man, he can’t be everywhere on the floor at once or play every second of every game, but his growth into one of the best all around defensive players in the league gives me the confidence to say that and in my opinion has him as the front runner for Defensive Player of the Year.
This past Tuesday’s game against the Bulls is the perfect example of Green’s importance to the Warriors. Bogut missed the game due to an illness which forced coach Kerr to put Draymond on the Bulls’ center and one of the toughest covers in the post Pau Gasol. First, the fact that they decided to put the 6’7 Green on a legitimate seven footer and a great scorer on the block should give you some indication of just how good he is as a defender. Sure Pau had a very good game with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 blocks (okay an incredibly good game) but Green did not back down from the challenge and forced him into quite a few tough jumpers after pushing him off of his spot on the block; Pau is just a great offensive player and hit those tough shots. Golden State wound up losing the game by two on a Derrick Rose step back jumper but with almost any other player of Green’s size going up against a potential future Hall of Famer the Bulls would have exploited this matchup time after time and it would have been a likely blowout.
His versatility as a defender is close to unmatched in the league. In emergency situations like the one outlined above, with their top two centers Bogut and Ezeli out, he can guard the five man, and he can guard the other four positions on the floor as well with great effectiveness. He currently ranks first in the league in defensive rating at 96 and defensive win shares at 3, his defensive box plus minus ranks third in the league at 4 and all of these ratings lead to the 9th best value over replacement player in the league at 4.6. The eight players above him in this category are a who’s who of basketball players and the fact that a primarily defensive player is this high says a lot about his importance to his team.
In the end this award will likely go to someone such as Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan or someone with more name recognition than Draymond Green. He isn’t flashy with how he plays the game like Davis can be with his incredible shot blocking ability and the rest of his great skill set and he doesn’t have the cache that Duncan has built up over the years as one of the best players in the history of the game, but to me Draymond is the defensive player of the year. The advanced statistics and the play on the floor speak for themselves. His team has the best win percentage in the league as well and while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get the vast majority of the publicity, and deservedly so, he is hugely important to their chances of winning the Western Conference and advancing to their first Finals since Rick Barry was shooting the underhanded free throw.
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