The former Defensive Player of the Year had a bounce-back year for the Golden State Warriors.
No one knew what to expect from Draymond Green going into the 2020-21 NBA season. During the Golden State Warriors’ dismal 2019-20 campaign, the three-time All-Star didn’t look like his usual self.
Green averaged 8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists while playing for a Dubs squad that finished with the worst record in the NBA. Injuries were a big reason why Golden State fell from the top of the league’s perch. Klay Thompson missed the entire season after suffering a torn ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, while Stephen Curry only suited up for only five games.
Green looked unmotivated playing with a subpar team during the 2019-20 campaign. The 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year’s stats for that season show a significant dropoff from his career numbers.
38.9 field goal percentage (second-worst of his NBA career)
27.9 3-point percentage (third-worst of his NBA career)
Green’s 110.4 defensive rating and minus 7.2 net rating were the worst out of any of his nine years in the league.
The start of the 2020-21 season wasn’t encouraging from Draymond. He missed the first four games on the schedule while dealing with a right foot issue and didn’t play particularly well when he got into the lineup.
Green averaged 2.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and five assists while shooting just 26.6 percent from the field over the first five games. From that point on, head coach Steve Kerr altered strategies and put Draymond into a position to be one of the main facilitators on the offensive end alongside Curry.
With increased minutes in February, Green began to resemble the player we have been used to seeing. His numbers went up across the board compared to the first month of the schedule as he put up 6.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and his 10.6 assists per game in February ranked second in the NBA behind only James Harden.
Green’s chemistry with Curry is undeniable. The pair has an innate sense of where the other is going to be on the floor. As Scott Rafferty of NBA.com points out, the Green-Curry connection was the best in the league.
According to PBP Stats, Green assisted Curry on 194 baskets, which was the most anyone assisted a teammate on the season. The second-highest assist combo was Phoenix’s Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton (143), followed by Atlanta’s Trae Young and John Collins (141).
According to NBA.com, Curry shot 52.4 percent from 2-point range and 44.2 percent from 3-point range off of passes from Green.
The Warriors’ net rating was 10.5 points better per 100 possessions with Green on the floor. His resurgence wasn’t just limited to the offensive end. Green also showed he can still be a force defensively as well.
Opposing teams shot worse from the field when Green was on the court. His defensive positioning is among the best in the game, and he’s usually spot-on with his rotations.
When rookie James Wiseman suffered a torn meniscus that would keep him out for the remainder of the year, Kerr used Green as a small-ball 5. Draymond routinely handled the middle of the defense late in the season and was a big reason why Golden State went 10-3 down the stretch and secured a spot in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament.
For his part, Green believes he showed why he can still be a force on the defensive end with his play during the regular season. He had this to say during his end-of-season media availability.
“One thing I am certain of is that I can f— up an entire team’s offense. And so, when you look at the impact that I have on the defensive side of the ball, it’s not always going to show up in blocked shots. It’s not always going to show up in steals. “But I guarantee you it shows up in your favorite-player-who-I-may-be-playing-against’s mind. It shows up in what they’re able to do, as opposed to what they’re trying to get to. “I think being able to control the game on the defensive side of the ball [is key] when you start talking Defensive Player of the Year.”
One area Green will need to focus on this offseason is his scoring. Although he’s never been a go-to option on the offensive end, the numbers show that the Warriors are difficult to beat when he’s able to put the ball in the basket.
The Dubs went 15-3 last season when Draymond hit double figures. Green will need to put a lot of work into his shooting to do that consistently next year.
Green was below the league average in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, per Basketball-reference.com.
Defenders routinely sagged off Draymond and dared him to pull the trigger, especially from the perimeter. More than 68 percent of Green’s looks from beyond the arc were considered wide open by NBA.com, meaning there was no defender within six feet when he released the ball. The good news is that Kerr likes what he has seen from Green in recent weeks while both are a part of Team USA.
“I rebounded for Draymond pregame the other day for his shooting routine — first time I’ve ever done it,” Kerr said last week on 95.7 The Game’s Damon Bruce show. “… I’m not kidding — Draymond is shooting the hell out of the ball. Whether it’s in drills … he is playing with a ton of confidence. I think the last couple months were so good for him after what was a tough season last year.”
Green was at his best when he attacked the rim and set up his teammates with the defense collapsing. With a healthy Thompson in the lineup, Green should have more openings to make plays.
Green is under contract for three more seasons and is due a little more than $77 million, so it looks like he will be staying in the Bay Area for at least the immediate future.
What are your expectations for Draymond next season?