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Season-In-Review Player Capsules: The Bigs
by Brian Witt
A player-by-player look back at the 2016-17 season, concluding with the big men.
After finishing second in the voting each of the previous two seasons, Draymond Green finally broke through and became the first Warriors player ever to take home the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. He ranked first in the NBA in steals (2.03 per game) and became the first player in team history to record at least 150 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season. He was also named to the All-Defensive First Team for a third consecutive season, becoming the first player in Warriors history to earn First Team honors three times.
Green was named to the All-NBA Third Team after averaging 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.38 blocks per game during the regular season. In doing so, he became the first player to tally averages of at least 10 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block over the course of a season since blocks and steals were first recorded in 1973-74. In addition to several key defensive stops in the final moments of close games, Green also became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double that didn’t involve points.
When the Warriors signed Kevin Durant as a free agent last offseason, they didn’t have any true centers with NBA experience on the roster at the time. Instead of utilizing a single player to fill the role, Golden State chose to go with a rotating group of big men, each capable of contributing in their own way. Zaza Pachulia was a crucial part of that center rotation, and averaged 6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 18.1 minutes over 70 regular season games (all starts) with Golden State. He shot a career-best 53.4 percent from the field, and finished the season with the highest plus/minus (+6.0) of all centers in the NBA. He led the Warriors in offensive rebounding (2.0 per game), and Golden State outscored opponents by 15.8 points per 100 possessions while Pachulia was on the court during the regular season.
Another member of Golden State’s unique center rotation came in the form of David West, who joined the Warriors as a free agent last offseason. The wily veteran appeared in 68 games during the regular season, averaging 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 12.6 minutes while shooting 53.6 percent from the field. West’s 187 total assists over the entire 2016-17 campaign ranked second among all Warriors reserves, and he had the best defensive rating (98.6) of any player on Golden State’s roster during the regular season.
Signed as a free agent midway through September, JaVale McGee was a late addition to Golden State’s roster, but an incredibly important one at that. He appeared in 77 regular season games (10 starts), averaging 6.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks while shooting a career-best and team-leading 65.2 percent from the field. In the postseason, he upped that shooting percentage to 73.2 percent, the highest field goal percentage in a single postseason in franchise history (min. 10 field goal attempts). During the regular season, he finished second among all NBA players in dunks per minute, and second among centers in PER (25.8) behind only Karl Anthony-Towns.
James Michael McAdoo
A carryover from the previous title team, James Michael McAdoo found a way to contribute despite infrequent playing time.
"He’s explosive. He’s smart. He can guard multiple positions,"" said Steve Kerr of McAdoo following a victory in Charlotte in January in which the mobile big man played a pivotal role. "He’s a niche player; not every matchup is going to work for him. He knows that. But when the matchups are right, he’s always staying ready and he delivers.""
McAdoo stayed ready to the degree of a career-high 52 games during the regular season and delivered 2.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per contest while shooting 53.0 percent from the field. He recorded career-highs in total points (147), rebounds (90) and minutes played (457). McAdoo also appeared in 13 playoff games, averaging 1.8 points and 1.0 rebounds in 4.3 minutes while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three-point range.
He missed 12 postseason games due to a hip injury, but Kevon Looney still concluded his second season in the league with an NBA championship. Another big that was in and out of the lineup, Looney appeared in 53 regular season games (four starts) with Golden State and averaged career-highs with 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game while shooting 52.3 percent from the field. He also appeared in four games (one start) over the course of three assignments with the Santa Cruz Warriors, posting averages of 12.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.0 block in 19.8 minutes per contest with Golden State’s D-League affiliate.
The Warriors’ first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft didn’t see a ton of playing time in his rookie season with Golden State, but he still managed to display some of the promising potential he has to offer. He appeared in 10 regular season games with the Warriors, averaging 1.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest before totaling seven points in 21 minutes throughout the four postseason games he played in. Prior to that, he appeared in 31 games (21 starts) over the course of nine assignments with the Santa Cruz Warriors and was named NBA D-League Player of the Month for games played in March and April. He made his NBA debut on December 12 at Memphis, and scored the first NBA points of his career on February 1 against the Hornets.