Draymond Green’s Offensive Value Is Abundantly Clear in Warriors’ Loss to the Nuggets
If Stephen Curry is the heart of the Golden State Warriors offense, then Draymond Green is the engine that makes the Dubs go.
Unlike Curry, who is at the crux of everything the Warriors do, Green’s value is not predominantly defined by his scoring ability. In fact, Draymond is averaging under nine points for his career. Instead, Green is one of the more unique offensive players in the NBA because of his ability to orchestrate Golden State’s motion offense and spur scoring actions.
The Warriors looked lost without Green on the floor for Tuesday night’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets. The contest served as a reminder of Draymond’s irreplaceable value.
Draymond Green has critical value to the Warriors as a point forward
Draymond Green is more commonly regarded for his defense, and rightly so. He’s a former Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Defensive selection.
However, Green’s offensive contributions are every bit as important to the Warriors.
The 31-year-old’s court vision allows the Dubs to maximize Curry as a weapon off the ball, with Steph running around screens and setting picks of his own to free up space for himself and teammates. Green can find cutters with ease if opposing defenses aren’t clean with their help or rotations.
Draymond is also unafraid of taking on-ball defenders off the bounce and making the right basketball play when he is swarmed. He spots bigs filling the lane for lobs and routinely looks to get the Dubs running in transition.
This season, Green is averaging 7.5 assists after becoming the fourth forward/center in NBA history to average at least eight assists during the 2020-21 campaign. He still sets the tone as Golden State’s offensive conductor and primary distributor.
The Warriors were helpless in Green’s absence during Tuesday’s loss to the Nuggets.
Golden State looked sloppy without Green on the floor
With Green in health and safety protocols, the Dubs hoped to replicate him in the form of Juan Toscano-Anderson. That plan didn’t work.
Golden State showed a certain carelessness with the ball early. The Warriors committed eight turnovers in the first quarter. Curry had four of those and was also held to just two field-goal attempts, as the Nuggets showed little hesitance in doubling him on high pick-and-rolls.
Under normal pretenses, that high pick-and-roll set is a boon for the Dubs. If the defense collapses on Curry, he can feed Green, who is capable of making the next pass either for an assist or a hockey assist. But against Denver, Toscano-Anderson and others appeared hesitant and lacked vision. The uncertainty allowed Denver to maintain its high level of defensive pressure on Steph.
Golden State took better care of the ball in the second period, but it could not find open looks. The Warriors often settled for contested twos and shot just 35% from the field in the quarter. At the end of the first half, the Dubs trailed by 24 points.
Although Curry and the Warriors charged back into the game in the second half thanks to a staunch defensive effort, six more turnovers in the third quarter came back to bite them. Golden State failed to complete the comeback, with Nikola Jokic snuffing out Jonathan Kuminga’s game-tying effort at the rim in the final seconds.
The loss is indicative of the Warriors being a sum of their parts. As tremendous as Curry is, opposing teams can mitigate his impact when Green isn’t on the floor.
Draymond deserves more credit for what he provides offensively
Draymond Green is a subpar shooter. He can occasionally look awkward when barreling to the rim. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a strong offensive player.
Green excels in his role. His vision and anticipation make the Warriors less reliant on Curry to create everything independently. Plus, the three-time All-Star can still score when called upon. Green is shooting a career-high 54.7% from the field this season.
The Warriors will have some adapting to do when Klay Thompson returns, not to mention James Wiseman. Green is likely to play a pivotal role in helping to keep everyone on the same page and get the Dubs kicking into high gear.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.