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Splash Assessment: Draymond Green’s early season stats review

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With about a third of the season complete, have you noticed Green is balling out of his mind?

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If the classic “stats versus eyeballs” debate has taught me anything, it’s the importance of checking our assumptions against the data. With about one-third of the season completed, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of the stats of our key players.

In these articles, I’ll be listing some of my notable impressions and then presenting the numbers for your consideration.

Up for review today: Draymond Green

My initial impressions of Draymond’s season so far are as follows:

  • His defense was just okay early in the season, but has improved significantly in recent weeks.
  • Offensively, Green has struggled — more turnovers and under-average shooting.

Early season defensive struggles?

Overall, the Warriors’ defense has not been as solid as in previous years. Currently, our Defensive Rating is sixth in the league. Respectable enough, but not the top one or two like we have grown accustomed to. It felt like our defense was worse early in the season (when our defensive rating dropped as low as 12th), but how much of this was on Green?

This one is going to be a bit tough to analyze. Unlike something straightforward like shooting, responsibility for the overall team defense is a shared task — the culpability of any one player too uncertain. In other words, it’s easy to count shots and determine efficiency, but defensive numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Still, we are going to look at his numbers, and see if a pattern emerges that clearly conflicts or agrees with the assumption that he has gotten better recently. For this data, I took the basic defensive box score stats and normalized them per 36 minutes. So these are the results of each game this season:

Okaaaaaay, so pretty noisy but you can definitely see that over the first six games or so he was a bit slow and generally under-performed. Then, that first huge explosion in blocks that you see was this game against the 76ers, when Green got five blocks in just 31 minutes. From there, I would argue that you see the resumption of his more normal pattern of blocking and stealing everything.

Verdict: Plausible, but really only true over the first handful of games. In a pretty small sample there’s what looks like a pattern of improvement, but maybe that’s just me seeing what I want. If you want to argue that he has struggled defensively over the first five games of the season, I’d be willing to concede the point (while wondering why you’re being such a jerk whining about five games).

Offense - shooting and turnovers

Scoring efficiently is the hallmark of this Warriors’ offense, and Draymond Green plays a large role in that efficiency. What I want to look at is the specific shot-related data and Green’s shooting this season compared to other years in particular.

Welp, I sure was wrong here!!

Draymond Green’s .571 TS% is the second-best of his career. That’s the exact opposite of what I had though. You know what they say about making assumptions...

Digging a little deeper, we can look at the two main categories - 3-point shooting, and all other field goal attempts. Remember that these are all weighted in order to get TS%, but at least we can see if there’s a specific aspect of this shooting that may have dropped off.

Oopsy, no drop offs. In fact, he’s improved both his 2-point shooting, and 3-pointers at a fairly impressive clip.

Verdict: I’m sorry, Mr. Green - you are having a great shooting year, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Damn my lying eyeballs! So wrong.

Okay, last one up - turnovers.

Nothing makes me throw my hands up and yell at the TV quite so much as a bone-headed turnover and it feels like that’s happening more and more often this season.

But not all turnovers are created equal. Passing more just inherently will lead to additional turnovers — all those assists are the reason why this team still wins so much, in spite of generally leading the league in turnovers (and not in a good way). So Draymond will get the same treatment, let’s take a look at his turnovers, but the assists, and subsequent ratio:

This graphic is a good picture to show why we need to look at the statistics in a number of ways. Superficially, yes, Green’s turnovers are up slightly, from 2.7 per 36 last season up to around three turnovers so far this year. Worse, but not too bad, especially this early in the season.

But more importantly, look at the number of assists! Per 36 minutes, Green is hooking up with his team for a career-best 8.3 assists. At that crazy level of output, it’s phenomenal that he manages to not turn the ball over more!

Verdict: While true that he turns it over slightly more than last year, the overall turnovers aren’t a problem because Green is doing so many positive things with the ball.

In conclusion, I may just be too hard on Draymond Green as I was egregiously wrong in a couple of areas here.

He has been having an excellent season on offense and defense - as we’ve come to expect. While he’s no Steph Curry, Green’s ability to create offensive opportunities for himself and others is a large driver of the Golden State Warriors offense and his shooting is efficient enough to add another threat vector to our schemes.

The slow start to the season is looking smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as we drive away from the first trimester of this season. It was a slow defensive start to the season, but we can forgive five games of early season struggles. Overall, Green is having yet another fantastic year on both ends of the court.

All stats were extracted from basketballreference.com player page for Draymond Green, which can be found here. Graphs and statistics are current as of 12/15/2017.

If this story appears to be missing graphics, they were stripped out by your mobile search (AMP) - you’ll have to go through goldenstateofmind.com to see the full glory.