With Steph Curry’s brilliance shining so brightly, it takes discerning eyes to capture and appreciate the comprehensive contributions of one of his Warriors teammates.
That would be Draymond Green, who starts at power forward but purposefully defies the limitations of any single position.
Green’s traditional statistics rarely shout, but his overall game generally is a primal scream of skill, adaptability and production. He was heard, loudly and clearly, Thursday night at Target Center in Minneapolis, where the Warriors ran their record to a franchise-best 10-0 in concluding a two-game road trip with a 129-116 thumping of the Timberwolves.
Green came within two rebounds of a triple-double, scoring a season-high 23 points, handing out 12 assists, also a season-high, and grabbing eight rebounds. For the heck of it, Green also nabbed two steals and two blocks.
All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, from Steph Curry’s game-high 46 to Festus Ezeli’s 10. Green, in his own way, did as much as Curry to dictate the rhythms of the game.
“He’s awesome,” interim coach Luke Walton said of Green. “He was great. His playmaking in the first half was incredible. Anytime he was on the court, he was finding everybody for open shots, open dunks, alley-oops – just unselfish, beautiful basketball, which is what we preach all the time to the guys. He was doing all that for us.
“Then in the second half, he did a great job getting a bit more aggressive when we needed to and knocked down some big shots for us.”
All of which describes Green’s ability to transform into whatever the Warriors need. He spends nearly as much time at center and “point forward” than he does at power forward. After leading the Warriors in rebounding last season, Green leads them in assists through the first 10 games this season.
“That’s the best part of the game for me,” Green said. “Being able to find someone else for a shot is always fun. Whether it’s seeing Festus catch a lob or seeing one of the guys knock a ‘3’ down, that’s fun.”
With 8-of-10 shooting and his usual stellar defense, Green walked off the court a plus-34 in the plus/minus column. Rarely is such a lofty number seen in the NBA.
But that’s what Green does. In overall plus/minus, he’s second in the NBA at plus-126 – behind only Curry, whose plus total is 132. By comparison, Blake Griffin is at plus-37, Dirk Nowitzki at plus-15 and Tony Parker is plus-7.
If Curry is the shiniest diamond of the Warriors, Green is the sturdiest rock.
“He’s elevated his game to add (more passing) on a consistent basis,” Curry said. “And the way teams are defending us on pick-and-rolls, he has a lot of opportunities moving forward to pick apart the defense with his lobs, passes to the weak side.
“(In) transition, he’s playmaking right now. It’s tough for our opponents to take away our 3s, take away our pick-and-roll game and have to defend it on the back end. He’s picking out hard.”
Green does everything hard. It’s how he become a leader in Michigan State and, despite being the last of the Warriors’ three draft picks in 2012, it’s also how he became a leader in the NBA.
Shunned by NBA teams in the draft, Green has become the prototype of what teams now hope to find. Put another way, teams that didn’t think he was good enough are out scouring the world for the next Draymond Green.
You know. A guy who can play center in your small lineup, or power forward in your traditional lineup. Someone who can guard a 7-footer on one end, then lead the fast break on the other. Green thrives on dirty work, but shoots the 3-pointer well enough to demand respect.
Yeah. Good luck finding one of those guys.