The 2019-20 season was a reset for the Golden State Warriors. After a historic five-year run that saw the Dubs claim three NBA championships, injuries and roster moves resulted in a 15-50 record last year.
Golden State is in a rare position of having championship pieces while holding the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. General manager Bob Myers also has the $17.2 million trade exception to work with, plus the mid-level exception to bring in an impactful free agent.
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson expected to be back and fully healthy for the 2021 season, the Dubs will be among the best teams in the Western Conference. The other piece of the championship core —Draymond Green — is also a critical piece who needs to get back to the level of play he sustained during the Warriors’ run.
The 30-year-old looked like a shell of his former self in 43 games last season, averaging 8.0 points, 6.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds. Without Curry and Thompson in the lineup, his shooting numbers plummeted playing with a less-talented roster. Green shot just 38.9% from the field and a paltry 27.9% from beyond-the-arc, the lowest since his rookie year.
Despite all of the losing, Green still made an impact on the defensive end, which is bread and butter. A bad Golden State team gave up 2.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Draymond on the floor.
Green looked tired at times last season and didn’t seem motivated to be on the floor, knowing the team wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t surprising to see his energy levels down after playing 476 total regular season and playoff games over the previous five seasons.
When he is at his best, Green is a monster on the defensive end who can set the table on offense. Head coach Steve Kerr used Green as a facilitator during the Dubs dominance, often setting up Curry, Thompson and the departed Kevin Durant for wide-open jumpers.
For the Warriors to be amongst the best teams in the NBA next season, they need Green to resemble the player we saw two seasons ago. Green’s game is predicated on his basketball IQ, so even though he has lost a step in terms of his athletic ability, he still has the tools to be an All-Star level player, especially with more talented teammates around him.
Golden State needs Green to work on his shot this offseason. The league average on 3-pointers last year was 35.9%, and while it might be a stretch to expect Green to shoot at level, it is essential he improves on what we saw from his deep shooting last season. When he is a credible threat from beyond-the-arc, it allows Kerr’s space and ball-sharing centric offense to be at its best.
Draymond seemed motivated to help the Dubs be back in the spotlight last season. He talked about what he missed most while watching the playoffs during an interview with The New York Times:
“As a competitor, you always want to be there,” Green said, “but when people ask me if I miss basketball right now, I tell them in a heartbeat, ‘No, I don’t.’ We’ve done it at the highest level that you can possibly do it for five straight years.
“What I do miss,” Green continued, “is competing at the absolute highest level. I will miss playing in the finals and knowing that every basketball player in the world is watching me play — performing on that stage.”
Curry and Thompson are the best backcourt in the league, and if Green can produce at a similar level to what he did during the 2018-19 season, the Warriors should be playing plenty of those high-level games next season.
What are your expectations for Draymond next season?
On to some links:
One former NBA All-Star thinks the Dubs should target a player currently with the Orlando Magic. Paul Pierce believes Nikola Vucevic would be a great fit with Golden State. (NBC Bay Area)
The Dubs need to add some veteran pieces to their roster. The team is reportedly interested in signing guard Jeremy Lin. (New York Post)
Owner Joe Lacob has made all of the right moves since taking over the team. ESPN’s Bobby Marks says Lacob’s drive to win is one of the reasons he would be shocked if the Warriors don’t use the trade exception. (NBC Bay Area)
Golden State is considered on the favorites amongst oddsmakers going into next season. Oddschecker.com says bettors are also doubling down on the Dubs to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2021.