The 2016-17 season was a special one for Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green. Not only did he win his second championship, but he also won the Defensive Player of the Year Award over Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who finished second in the voting.
Since losing to Green in 2017, Gobert has won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo prevented the Jazz big man from winning four in a row by taking home the trophy in 2020.
Behind the stellar play of Stephen Curry, the Warriors have the best record in the NBA and once again look like championship contenders. While Curry deserves most of the praise for the Warriors’ hot start, Green’s all-around play can’t go unnoticed, and he received staggering praise from head coach Steve Kerr that could make Gobert and Antetokounmpo upset.
Steve Kerr: “I think Draymond Green is the best defender in the world”
Kerr recently called Green the best defender in the world. The Warriors have the No. 1 scoring defense in the NBA, partly because Green can guard all five positions and makes up for some of Curry’s defensive weaknesses.
“I think Draymond Green is the best defender in the world,” Kerr said. “I think he’s had just an unbelievable start to the season. He’s so motivated. He’s so engaged every single night.”
Green is averaging 7.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.1 steals for the Warriors. The three-time All-Star looks like himself again after having down seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and is motivated to add another Defensive Player of the Year trophy to his awards case.
Draymond Green: “I want to be a Defensive Player of the Year again”
After putting up four points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and one block against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 21, Green told Warriors reporters that he wants to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award this season. The media votes for the NBA awards, so Green is trying to state his case early.
“I want to win. I want to be a Defensive Player of the Year again, and I want to be an All-Star again,” Green said. “And that is motivating me because a lot of people had counted me out. Same mistake people made before when I first came into the league. That’s fuel to the fire.”
Green led the NBA in steals when he won the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Warriors legend averaged 2.0 steals and racked up a total of 154. While he’s not one of the top-10 leaders in steals this season, Green is third in defensive rating, which is an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions. Gobert is No. 1, while Antetokounmpo is No. 8.
Gobert and Antetokounmpo are prideful players, so they will likely take it personally that Kerr thinks Green is the best defender in the NBA. It makes for good TV. Whenever the Warriors play the Jazz and Bucks, you can expect Gobert and Antetokounmpo to attack Green on both ends of the floor to prove Kerr’s statement is asinine.
While every player in the NBA wants to win individual awards, the main goal is to win a championship. After reaching five straight NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019 and winning three titles, Green and the Warriors have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. All signs point toward the Dubs making the postseason this year, and they could do some serious damage since Green and Curry’s partner in crime will be back.
Klay Thompson will be back soon
According to Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Klay Thompson has been cleared to be a full-time participant in all future Warriors practices and is trending toward a potential return the week before Christmas Day. The three-time champion hasn’t played since Game 6 of the 2019 Finals.
With Curry, Thompson, and Green leading the way, the Warriors could win the championship this season. While Thompson will be rusty when he first comes back since he’s been out for so long, the sharpshooter should be in rhythm by the time the playoffs start, and everyone knows how deadly of a shooter he is. Thompson is a career 41.9% shooter from beyond the arc, which is good for 13th in NBA history.
It’s certainly been fun to watch the Warriors play elite basketball again. Green can talk smack again since he’s on a winning team once more, and no matter how loud he can get, it undoubtedly makes for good press.