Recently we reviewed Kent Bazemore’s rise from undrafted free agent to possible Summer League MVP. And while he certainly didn’t do anything to hurt his chances with his performance against the Mavericks on Thursday, there’s another member of the Dubs’ Summer League squad who deserves some attention as well. That man is Draymond Green, and if his progression from his rookie season up to this point is any indication, this definitely won’t be the last time he’s the center of our discussion.
Green has overcome his own set of obstacles to reach this point. Although he didn’t go undrafted like Bazemore, he did have to wait until the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft to hear his name called. And that was after an illustrious collegiate career at Michigan State, where he earned First Team All-American honors following his senior year.
So why did he fall all the way to the 35th pick? At the time, there were concerns regarding what position he would play at the NBA level, but you can bet there are approximately 29 teams regretting not pulling the trigger on him. The only team that isn’t? You guessed it. Our very own Warriors.
As a bit of a “tweener” at 6’8”, Green had his work cut out for him in terms of solidifying a spot in the team’s rotation. It took him a little while to get going, but when reviewing his rookie season as a whole, it’s obvious he continued to improve as time went on, as you would naturally expect of a 22-year old. That improvement culminated in a breakout performance in last season’s playoffs, during which he shot 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range. Those numbers constituted a drastic improvement compared to his regular season percentages, and that continues to serve as a promising sign for Green’s NBA future.
So after what had to have been one heck of a wild ride of a rookie season, Green didn’t exactly slack off. In addition to being one of the best performers on the Warriors’ currently undefeated Summer League team, he’s taken it upon himself to improve aspects of his game that don’t necessarily involve balls falling through hoops. As an undersized frontcourt player, it’s imperative that Green’s fitness level matches that of his all-too-familiar intensity on the court. With that in mind, he’s paid particular attention to his diet this offseason, and from what we hear, his progress should definitely bring a smile to Mark Jackson’s face. According to Green himself, he’s lost at least 13 pounds this offseason, and his chiseled physique has already paid dividends. He ranks second on the Summer League team in scoring (12.5) and third in rebounding (5.3) per game, and beyond the numbers, he’s been everywhere on the court.
Activity has never been a concern regarding Green, at any level for that matter. He brings a unique combination of size, energy and intelligence to the table that is fairly uncommon for a player of his relative youth and inexperience, and it’s precisely that combination that has those 29 GM’s shaking their heads. The best part of it all for the Warriors? All signs indicate that this is just the beginning.
As far as his outlook for the 2013-14 season, it’s important to keep in mind that Green’s true value isn’t always easily deduced from box scores. It’s his intangibles, his hustle plays, and his team-first attitude that allow him to contribute, and allow the Warriors to be successful as a result. He doesn’t mind doing the dirty work, and in the numerous close, tough games the Warriors are expected to be in throughout next season, that’s going to come in extremely handy.
He’s not a starter (not at this point at least), but the Dubs don’t need him to be one. Rather, if he can pick up the slack, provide quality defense and rebounding, and help maintain leads while the starters get their much-needed rest, he will have done all that can be asked of him. And frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of concern regarding his ability to do that. Along with Tony Douglas, Marreese Speights, as well as Bazemore, Green will help constitute a deep bench that provides excellent defense, as well as the occasional scoring outburst. The vast majority of Green’s minutes will come as a backup forward, and it will be interesting to see how his versatility is utilized to create lineup mismatches.
If there’s one thing we can be certain about, though, it’s that Green will find a way to contribute, one way or another. Whether it’s pulling down a crucial rebound, playing physical man-to-man defense, or even just taking part in the Dubs’ unique bench celebrations, it’s just in his character to do whatever is asked of him. You need those kinds of players if you’re going to be a successful team in the NBA.
The Warriors have one. And it’s hard to say whether the team, its fans, or Green himself is happiest about it.