After ESPN published a piece questioning whether Draymond Green was a liability to the Golden State Warriors, I wasn’t particularly concerned. The focus of the piece seemed to be on his chemistry with teammates and coaches, and the Warriors made it clear that they were standing behind him, so it would seem that chemistry was not an issue. Or at least not one they felt needed to be addressed publicly.
That said, it was noted in the piece that many members of the organization blame Green’s suspension for the team’s eventual loss in the Finals. That didn’t seem fair to me, considering there’s no way of knowing how Game 5 would have turned out with Green playing. That blame also doesn’t take into account other factors, such as Stephen Curry coming back at less than 100 percent and the series-ending injury to Andrew Bogut in that same game.
Cut to Tuesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, where the Warriors were blown out in their home opener. There’s nothing too worrisome about an early loss in an 82-game season. It’s great to boast Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant on the same team, but they don’t win games by themselves. I guess theoretically, they could, but it’s best not to count on it. If anything, this loss will serve as an example of what they need to work on and motivate them to continue to challenge themselves. So it’s not worth being too upset over their performances so far.
However, I did take notice when Green was called for a technical foul for taunting LaMarcus Aldridge after a dunk. Though I didn’t see it, it was reported that Aldridge had done the same to him earlier in the game and it went unnoticed by the officials.
A technical foul in the first game of the season for say, Klay Thompson, would seem pretty irrelevant. But for Green, it does stand out. Considering the number of technical fouls he racked up during the regular season last year, not to mention the playoff suspension over flagrant fouls, Green will likely be facing heavy scrutiny this season. He may even be held to a higher standard than any other player, fair or not.
Asked after the game if he would be more mindful of this issue going forward, Green said that he will continue to be himself, noting that many players yell after dunks and have done so for years. And he’s not wrong, as exemplified by Aldridge getting away with the same.
Unfortunately, due to the high-profile issue he had with technical fouls last season, he has put himself in a position where he will likely be a target for referees and the league going forward. As we saw with LeBron James in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last season, other players now know that this is something they can exploit.
Because of this, it would benefit him to be mindful of his actions and exercise a level of restraint. Not to the point where he no longer shows passion; I agree with the organization that this is what drives his performance on the court. And a celebratory technical foul isn’t so much where his problem lies. It’s more in his affinity for mouthing off at officials.
He can work on that without sacrificing personality. He can decide that it isn’t worth arguing with refs, and that it never changes anything. Rant to your teammates if you just need to get it out. Rant to your coach. Express your anger by roaring at the crowd.
There are ways to channel that frustration. Frustration that isn’t going to get any better with the ever-increasing level of national attention that this team has focused on them.
Ultimately, I want Draymond to continue being Draymond. And I hope that he can find a way to maintain his over-the-top persona while also finding a way to channel his temper, at least when it comes to the referees.
A few technical fouls are to be expected. Passions run high in the NBA, higher still when you are the leader of the greatest team in the history of the game.
But we all know the type of trouble these can turn into if care is not taken. Seeing Green watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals from the Coliseum was painful. Knowing that people within his own organization blame his absence for the overall series loss is painful. Yet he mostly did it to himself, and I would hate to see him in the same position again.