The Warriors are riders on the NBA storm; Norse gods, pillaging and plundering their way towards new historical heights. Draymond Green, the vote leader for Defensive Player of the Year last season, has steered the ship with a steady hand towards the glory of Bill Russell's fabled Celtics.
Not only is Green the best defender in the league, but he's now toting a 3 to 1 AST/TO ratio and leading the team with an average of 7 assists per game. His True Shooting percentage stands at a career high (57%) and his threat from deep has gone from hopeful, to legitimate, to deadly (44% 3-point, 36 FGA's). He also leads the NBA in +/- at 16.0. Green's progression following a breakout season is marked by career highs across the board.
Replacing Bogut as the team's high screen and roll facilitator, Draymond understands that victory will rely on his IQ holding the ball. The Warriors are leading in assist percentage at 9.3 %. Green has succeeded in acting as a sanctuary for making decisions when the defense blitzes Curry. With premium floor spacing and the defense in momentary limbo, Green can drive down the middle and create like Stephen Jackson did for Biedrins. Curry provides a more seamless target here, that he almost guarantees an assist if he's open. The shooting of Curry will inflate Green's passing game to new proportions.
Will Green be an All-Star this season?
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News wrote during this past week that, "...Green is a perfect example of the kind of do-everything player who often gets overlooked for this honor."
Personally, I think Draymond Green will make the 2016 NBA All-Star team. Not necessarily because he deserves to, but because of how easily one could contrast the predictions made about the Warriors from the offseason with their performance now and see Green's role in the difference.
1) With news that Steve Kerr would not be our head coach, and Luke Walton struggling to make the team attractive during the preseason, few had the sort of expectations they do today. People were talking about getting 60 wins — now they're anticipating 70. Incidentally, Curry and Green have amassed most of the credit for the team's success. Green's talent escaped notoriety last season because the Warriors weren't defending champions. Now they are, and their individual progress is being closely followed by GM's and new fans around the globe.
2) Green has served as the team's ambassador throughout all the off-season, pestering and taunting the media and figures around the league. The witty one-liners and oblique remarks energize the fan base. He's really great for the league in that he can be trusted to handle interviews with grace and turn good questions into epic quotes that you could fold into t-shirts. He's the standard as a marketable personality.
When your mom's famous around the league for being a trash talker, you better be very good. Green is very good.
3) How many defensive player of the year candidates on 60+ win teams didn't make the all-star team? Regardless of whether it's a popularity contest, the mystique of some of the West's aging stars can only continue to go so far. Also, the fact that he lost last year's race for Defensive Player of the Year should bode well for him this time around. He's due for an accolade, and that's known league-wide.
Conrad Chow wrote wrote a great piece discussing this very subject four months ago. Nobody thought it was possible for the Warriors' star to shine brighter since, but so far, it has.
Warriors Introduce Successful Defensive Trend
Michael Rosenfeld of Vantage Sports notes that the Warriors defensive strategy is being imitated by the rest of the league. While every team puts forth its own strategy, the Warriors identify their defense by switching on screens to reduce their effectiveness. Last season, the team switched on 19.22% of their screens, which placed them at 2nd in the league. Rosenfeld writes that in the infancy of the 2015-16 season, eight teams are switching on 20% of their defended screens. Notably, the Clippers have increased their switch usage on screens by 9-10%.
More interesting still, despite the change in philosophy, so far, defensive rating has shown no correlation between an increase in switching on screens and defensive efficiency for these teams.
(Diagrams via Vantage Sports)
The Golden State Warriors' technology advantage
Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group wrote about how the Warriors are using new technology to help manage injuries.
In their first championship season since 1975, the Warriors had fewer minutes lost to injury than any other team in the league, according to an ESPN study.
The correlation between health and technology is less clear, but the Warriors don't see it as mere coincidence. They swear by the devices they wear.
Warriors fans: Do you like having a mascot or not?
And that brings up an interesting point: do Warriors fans really want to have the mascot that has been absent since the franchise was quietly robbed of Thunder?
I was talking to a friend about this, and I'm not sure — sort of indifferent, really. I'd feel sorry for whoever it'd be if the Warriors suddenly went on a losing skid — they might get chased out of Oakland. But I'd still rather watch a man in a gorilla suit hump Joey Crawford instead of being climbed over by some hungry hippo, trying to snag a five dollar Little Caesar's pizza from one of those orange suit bozo's during a timeout. I'd still rather watch the Junior Jam Squad actually put moves on the floor instead of catching a line of saliva over my knee while some middle age dude sitting next to me drools over the new sophomore crop prancing around the floor as his eight-year-old daughter watches on.
If anything, why not sponsor some kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation and have them wave the banner? I could get into that. Maybe the rest of the league could too. I can't really think of anything more inspiring than a kid battling for their own life, jolting the team to victory. That would really put the zap on my enthusiasm.
Isn't sports just a smaller sample of that struggle?
Obviously, there were more links out there this week so feel free to drop them in the comments or write a FanPost about them.