The Golden State Warriors shocked the NBA world last season when they decided not to trade for Kevin Love, instead keeping Klay Thompson and giving him a $US70 million extension.
Not only has Thompson become a pivotal player for the Warriors, emerging as one of the best two-way wing players in the NBA, the decision not to trade for Love opened the door for forward Draymond Green.
Green was one the Warriors’ big pick-ups in the 2012 draft, and he has emerged as a crucial player for the team this year.
On an episode of Zach Lowe’s podcast “The Lowe Post,” Lowe and SB Nation’s Paul Flannery noted how not trading for Love led to Green’s breakout. Lowe started by saying, “The Kevin Love-Klay Thompson thing, it’s so interesting, because Golden State clearly made the right decision, and that decision was right less because of Klay Thompson than because of Draymond Green.”
“Is Draymond Green a max player in Boston? I don’t know, maybe not. Is he a max player with Golden State? Absolutely. Because the other thing is, how do you replace that guy? You don’t replace that guy, he’s unique… You can put Klay Thompson against Kevin Love in a vacuum and see who’s a better player, right? But on this team, Klay Thompson is more important, and specifically, because that meant Draymond Green was going to come into a different realm and a different role.”
After an injury to David Lee early in the season, Green became a starter and averaged career-highs across the board, mainly because his minutes jumped from 22 per game in 2013-14 to nearly 32 per game this season.
At 6’7″, Green is undersized as a power forward, but he’s strong enough to handle opposing big men and nimble enough to switch onto smaller, quicker guards and harass them with his size. In addition to his athletic gifts, Green can spread the floor with his shooting, work off the dribble, and find open teammates with his passing, giving Stephen Curry and Thompson easier shot opportunities. Green’s versatility was key in the Warriors’ small-ball chess match with the Rockets in the Conference Finals.
During the regular season, Green made the already-elite Warriors even better when he was on the court. Golden State finished the season ranked second in offensive rating and first in defensive rating, with averages of 109.7 and 98.2, respectively, meaning they outscored opponents by over 12 points per 100 possessions. With Green on the court, the Warriors’ offensive rating jumped to 112.5 while their defensive rating improved to 96, outscoring opponents by over 16 points per 100 possessions, third-best on the team. It’s been the same in the playoffs, where the Warriors are outscoring opponents by 13 points per 100 possession with Green on the floor — the best mark of any starter on the team.
As Flannery noted, Green is so important to what the Warriors do on both ends that he’s worth any price. He’ll become a restricted free agent this summer, which means the Warriors can match any offer he receives. If he receives a max contract offer, which would pay him at a starting rate of about $US16.7 million, the Warriors will have to match, simply because there’s no way to replace what Green does for the team.
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