This isn’t for the people who like Draymond Green. This isn’t for the NBA fans who appreciate the utility of a tough stretch 4 who can knock down 3s. It’s not even for Warriors fans who worship every starter on the best team Golden State’s had in decades.
No, this is for anyone who adores Draymond Green specifically. For anyone who has watched him work his way from the end of the bench to the top of max contract mountain and now loves him like a family member. Sunday was just the latest, greatest example of Draymond and all his works. He had 23 points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Then there was this.
It starts with the bump.
Then the side-eye. “Did this dude just … ”
Then it’s back to the interview, but wait, no words are coming out.
Dahntay Jones is staring back now.
So keep that pause going a little longer. Just to let Dahntay Jones know … if he wants to fight, Lisa Salters can wait, and they can do this right here.
Four magical seconds of silence later, he finally goes back to the interview.
“Once I knocked a few shots down they really started closing out hard,” he says. “So I was able to drive, and once we went small the lane really opened up, so I was able to get to the rim. And my teammates found me and put me in a position to be successful.”
That is one quote about one game, but it also works pretty well to describe the entire Warriors offense, and this entire Golden State season.
Afterward, more talk about Dahntay Jones’s near-death experience.
“I think he wanted a reaction from me … ” Green explained.
“… but he don’t play.”
“Me getting suspended and him getting suspended, it’s different … If he gets suspended, they may not even notice.”
Also: “When you don’t play, that’s probably his role on that team. I’ve had that role once in my career, a couple years ago.”
He said that part with a smile.
This is what’s really great about Draymond Green.
That was his role coming into the league. He was six fouls at the end of the bench. Starting out his rookie year, he was considered the young enforcer from Saginaw who might occasionally fill in for David Lee when the Warriors were getting pushed around. He didn’t shoot 3s, he wasn’t considered a playmaker, and it didn’t matter that he could guard almost anyone.
Picturing that version of Draymond Green with a max contract would be like picturing a Grantland intern running ESPN in three years. It wouldn’t even be a funny joke. It’d be too random to register.
Now we’re here. The max-contract joke still isn’t funny, but only because it’s obviously going to happen. The Pistons want to pay him close to the max this summer, and Golden State wants to match, and until then, he’s a crucial piece on the best team in basketball.
It’s one of the best stories in the NBA. This was a player everyone knew from college, and coming into the NBA draft, everyone knew he didn’t matter. He fit every criteria of a college superstar we’d all forget about in a few years. Not athletic enough to play on the perimeter, not big enough to matter down low, and destined for irrelevance.
Instead, he found a role early on giving Golden State an edge off the bench, he stepped up huge in the playoffs his first season, and from there, he’s gotten a little bit better every year. He found a new identity as a stretch 4, and as he shot more from the perimeter every season, his shooting went from 33 percent (as a rookie) to 41 percent (last year) to 44 percent (this season). He’s also gotten better off the dribble, and his passing helps the entire offense. Meanwhile, swapping Lee in the starting lineup for Draymond and his defense is one of the major reasons the Warriors can play small and fast and still have the best defense in the league.
All of that is why he’ll get paid this summer, wherever he ends up. It’s also why quotes about his own success this year dovetail so perfectly with everything that makes the Warriors great.
Loving where he is goes back to where he started, though. So much of the NBA belongs to people who are gifted beyond comparison and talented beyond comprehension — guys who make impossible skills look routine. Guys like Steph, Klay, even someone like Harrison Barnes. I love Draymond Green like a family member because he was none of those things. He was the regular dude from Michigan who might one day be able to foul people professionally, and through sheer will and self-confidence, he has made himself as irreplaceable as anyone. This is the goddamn American Dream, at least for the 99 percent of us who shouldn’t bother dreaming.
The best part is that even as he turns into a real star, he still plays like the regular dude from Michigan. Full of shit-talking, and hard fouls, and ugly buckets down low, and postgame-interview ice grills because someone bumped his elbow. And his name is still Draymond, which perfectly communicates everything in that last sentence.
So I guess the question isn’t “Do you love Draymond Green like a family member?” It’s more … If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?