Draymond Green is a two-time champion. He is the emotional and defensive anchor of the best team in the history of the NBA. And now, after finishing second the last two years behind Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green is the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. You could argue that he’s already the best second round draft pick in league history, although Manu Ginobili might have something to say about it.
As impressive as his career has already been, he’s just getting started. That’s the scary part. His defensive game has expanded each and every year under Ron Adams. He can legit guard every single position, and his defensive flexibility has enabled the Warriors to implement a switch-everything approach that has upended the NBA. If he doesn’t get suspended in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals, the Warriors are potentially three-peaters. Although, you could argue his nut-punch was #LightYears in its own way, as he essentially missed landing his punch, but did land Kevin Durant as an unexpected consequence.
But, this isn’t a career retrospective, nor is it a forum for discussing the most famous nut shot of the past few years. Instead, this is purely an opportunity to take a closer look at Draymond Green’s past season.
In the 2016-17 season, Draymond Green averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game. His PER was a very respectable 16.5, and he had a VORP of 4.6. [All stats via basketball-reference.com]. However, his PER and VORP were both slightly down compared to last season. So, why does it feel like — even with less touches with the arrival of Kevin Durant, and with some key advanced stats regressing slightly — Green just had his best season ever?
As he said himself [via CSN Bay Area]:
“It is the best defensive season I’ve had, because I’ve continued to grow. When I look at the last couple years, I think each year I got better defensively. And I think this year I’ve gotten better. So I do think it’s my best season, defensively -- but just not numbers-wise. The numbers are up a little bit more. But I actually feel better about what I’ve done on the defensive end than I have in any other year.”
Draymond is one of those guys who impacts every single facet of the game. When he’s on the court, there’s never a moment where he’s disengaged, or where he isn’t right in the thick of the action. He often brings the ball up the court, he often initiates the offense. He’s the emotional center of the Warriors’ whirling dervish offense. And on defense, he’s even more irreplaceable, calling out switches and assignments in real time, acting as the quarterback of the defense.
It’s amazing to watch the man work on a night in and night out basis.
He had openly campaigned for the DPOY award in the past, but this year, after winning the championship for the second time in three years, he seemed not to have cared too deeply one way or the other.
Again, via CSN Bay Area, before the awards were announced last night:
“I don’t really care that much anymore. I cared before, but we won the NBA championship now. I don’t care about what happened in the regular season any more at this point. I think I would have cared if I found out in Round 1 or Round 2. But at this point . . . I don’t even care any more.”
It’s an interesting point that he brings up, and something I think the league should consider for next season. Why did we find out about the results of MVP, DPOY, COY, etc, last night? I mean, who cares? Russell Westbrook won the MVP, and it didn’t matter. At all. His season has been over for a long, long time. (Although, to be fair, if Westbrook had been presented the award in the second round, like normal, he would have had to get up off his couch to come accept it somewhere, a la Dirk Nowitzki after the “We Believe” beat-down.)
It’s great that Draymond Green finally won DPOY after finishing second twice. But you know what’s even cooler?
Draymond is coming off his best season, anchors the best team in the universe, and is the best defender on the planet. Pretty good for a pudgy kid out of Saginaw.