Let me start out this post by saying: I have no idea what I’m talking or writing about. I don’t know what’s going on with Draymond Green. I’m not even entirely sure there is something going on with Green. What I do know is that he hasn’t looked exactly like himself lately, even if I can’t quite put my finger on it.
And I’m not the only one who’s noticed it. I was flipping around the radio dial all day and heard four different shows address it. Although there wasn’t anything really tangible to discuss … Only that it “seems” like something’s up with the Warriors’ emotional leader.
We know about the incident at halftime of the Feb. 27 game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, where Green was involved in a shouting match, presumably with coach Steve Kerr. While all the parties downplayed it afterwards, apparently it was serious enough that Green apologized for the outburst.
Now, against that backdrop, Green seems to be playing a little bit different. Notice I said a little bit different and not drastically different. Green is still doing all the dirty work and then some for the Warriors, and as always, filling up important columns in the boxscore consistently.
But Green seems a touch more deliberate when it comes to offensive decision-making and taking 3-pointers, and in recent games he’s appeared to be trying to force things instead of making the solid play. He seems to be a little less comfortable in his role than he was for almost all of the season.
While Green has still been rebounding and assisting at very good rates, he’s just 4-for-his-last 24 from 3-point range and he’s put up some alarming turnover numbers. In the past 10 games, Green has had a 9-turnover game, two 7-turnover games and two 5-turnover games. That’s some of why things don’t feel all the way copacetic with Green.
Here are some hunches – nothing more – of what might be going on:
–Struggling with his jumper: For whatever reason, Green isn’t knocking down the 3 like he did early in the season. When Green hits a few from deep, it does wonders for the Warriors’ offense. When he struggles from out there, or is little to no threat, it takes pressure off the defense and allows his man to sag and clog more.
And one thing the Warriors love to do is keep the middle open. It’s less open if nobody is out defending Green 25 feet from the bucket. Also, since Green is more reluctant to take the 3, it means that when he does drive or try to make a play, he’s likely got less room in which to operate – because his man was off him from the get-go.
–Trying to be too perfect with every pass: Maybe it’s a reaction to not helping enough with his scoring, but Green seems to be taking more and more chances with his passing. Green is one of the more fundamentally sound frontcourt players in the NBA, so when he keeps it simple, good things will likely happen. But Green, like many of his teammates, sometimes tries to make the highlight play rather than the one that will guarantee them a good shot
Look, Green leads the league in triple-doubles this season with 11. For a player like him, cracking double figures in assists is the trickiest part. So, it wouldn’t be beyond comprehension that Green is looking for even more reasons to pass than usual. That’s not selfish, that’s human nature.
–Pressure to play up to his statistics: Have you taken a look at Green’s stats lately? They’re pretty incredible – about 14 points per game, a touch under 10 rebounds and 7.5 assists a game. I mean, it’s not that far off from “averaging” a triple-double, and if he handled the ball even more that crazy feat might even be within the realm of possibility.
Point is, though, it’s not easy to do what Green does on a consistent basis. And we’re not even factoring in his defense, which is elite in the NBA. It would be natural for a player like Green to feel a great deal of internal pressure, knowing he’s got to continually produce the kind of farfetched numbers he’s been putting up all season.
–Frustration mounting for already emotional player: Everyone who watches the Warriors knows Green is the team’s heart and soul, their heartbeat as many like to say. There’s truth to it. Stephen Curry is pretty even-keeled and Klay Thompson is just plain laid back. They need someone fiery and Green is the natural.
Green’s fury, passion and competitiveness have in large part made him the player he is today. But a player such as Green is likely to feel the ups and downs of a season more than Curry or Green, who are more reserved. Who knows? Maybe Green is feeling under appreciated about too much blue collar and not enough white. Maybe frustration is starting to become a part of this.
–Relationship with Steve Kerr and Luke Walton: It seems apparent that Kerr runs a tighter ship than Walton – and he has to, quite frankly. First, Kerr is the head coach, not the assistant, and, second, Kerr is coaching the second part of the season, when the stakes are higher.
It’s logical to think Green had more freedom under Walton, and so with the team winning at a historic early clip … what are you going to do? But perhaps Kerr’s got to start tightening up some things right now. And maybe Green’s dealing with that tightening up.
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