Friday brought the Golden State Warriors' 24th consecutive victory to start the 2015-16 season, which is a major story in its own right. It's the best start to a season in American sports history, it's one of the longest winning streaks of any kind in NBA history, and there are countless other superlatives you could launch to describe it. But it is human nature to get comfortable with your situation and want more, and as a long-suffering Warriors fan suddenly rewarded with a championship and then a subsequent magical dream run to start the next season, that can mean simultaneously counting your blessings and thirsting for greater heights.
This 24-0 start is incredible, but what separated the 24th win from the 23rd or the 25th? What made this one special, for those of us living the streak one game at a time? On Tuesday against the Pacers, Klay Thompson took a run at the single-game record for three-pointers, though he didn't quite achieve it. On Saturday in Milwaukee, the Dubs will attempt to become the first team to ever go 7-0 on a road trip. This squad is so good that just extending the unbelievable winning streak almost isn't news anymore, like Joe DiMaggio recording a hit in his 48th straight game or Brett Favre making his 280th straight start. Just one more mark on the growing tally. Give a holler when it's done, and then we can determine its legacy.
Fortunately, there was indeed something to set apart Friday's double-overtime win against the Celtics. Well, other than the fact that it went to double-overtime, which is fun for those of us watching live but not unique or relevant in a historical context. The thing that made the 24th win different involved Draymond Green's stat line:
Draymond, 12/11/2015: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 5 blocks
At first glance, you might not notice how special that line is. He didn't dominate in any one category, like dropping 40 points or grabbing 20 rebounds. It's not even a triple-double, a feat he's achieved three times already this season. What he did was contribute heavily in every single area of the box score, earning what is known as a 5-by-5.
How rare is a 5-by-5? Here are all of the instances in the last 30 years:
If the text in the image is too small for you to read, then here's the summary: With data covering this season and the 30 that came before it, going back to 1985-86, Draymond's 5-by-5 was only the 16th ever recorded. There have already been 16 triple-doubles recorded in the NBA this season alone, and we're only a quarter of the way through. Think of how rare a triple-double is, and how special it seems when a player notches one, and then consider that discrepancy in how much less frequent it is to see a 5-by-5. Furthermore, considering that six of the instances were authored by Hakeem Olajuwon, with another three fired off by AK-47, there are only nine different players who have pulled off the 5-by-5 in those three decades.
The beauty of Draymond's game is how complete it is, and it's been even sweeter watching that game develop. As a rookie he looked like a useful role player who contributed using pure hustle. The next year it became clear that he could play serious defense. Then the next year he learned to shoot. Then this year he learned to distribute. Now he contributes to every aspect of the game, and there may not be a better statistical measure of that all-around skill than the 5-by-5. It doesn't surprise me that Nic Batum was the most recent guy on the list, since I always thought they seemed vaguely similar in concept as underrated all-around players.
One final note to wrap up: This wasn't just a matter of one player stuffing the stats sheet, if such a thing is even possible with a package as diverse as a 5-by-5. After playing 50 of 58 minutes in a game his team won by five points (and surviving two overtimes with five fouls already on him), Draymond finished with a +14 plus/minus rating, neck-and-neck with the MVP. Steph finished at +15, with no one else above +5 for the night.
I can't imagine there's anyone on GSoM who doesn't think Draymond is an All-Star, but for the rest of the world, Friday's game is a great example of precisely why he deserves to be one.