Steph Curry is the unquestionable face of the Golden State Warriors‘ three-ring dynasty. Curry and fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson formed perhaps the best shooting duo of all time, while future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant joined the team to win a pair of rings in three seasons. But in the background lies Draymond Green, doing all of the dirty work that made the Warriors tough as well as talented.
After an incredible game by Green last season, Curry went on the record to discuss what makes the three-time All-Star the smartest player he’s ever played with.
Steph Curry praised Draymond Green’s passing ability
On April 23, 2021, the Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets 118-97. The Nuggets have their own elite passer in MVP Nikola Jokic, but it was Green who finished the game with 19 assists, tying a career-high.
After the game, Curry spoke with ESPN on Green’s elite passing ability.
“The same way you feel like the game slows down and the rim looks huge,” Curry said, “Same way I guess if you’re at the top of the key or you’re making those decisions with the ball in your hands and you get somebody open. On-time and on-target passes, you kind of just see everything a little bit better, a little bit quicker. Execute the angle of the pass, speed of the pass, timing of the pass, whatever it is — he’s a master at it.”
Green agreed with Curry’s assessment that the game can slow down, even if you’re not shooting.
“You definitely can find that zone and feel like you can make any pass,” Green said. “Some of those crazy-a** passes you see me make, it’s like a heat check. You see a guy coming down from 35 feet and heat-checking that thing, I feel like that with my passes sometimes.”
Green’s passing ability is a result of his high basketball IQ
Green has averaged seven or more assists in four of the last six seasons, including a career-high 8.9 assists in 2020-21. It makes up for his lack of scoring prowess, where last year the former Michigan State Spartan averaged just 7.0 points, his lowest since his second season in the NBA.
In the 19-assist performance against Denver, Green scored a whopping two points on 1-for-3 shooting. Curry, however, doesn’t believe scoring has anything to do with what makes Draymond special (h/t: ESPN).
“When he gets in a groove like that where he’s getting everybody involved, and having a Draymond-type night where scoring’s not really the difference-maker, it’s the way that he does the intangibles. And then makes everybody better by getting the ball on time, can finish off plays. He’s the smartest basketball player I’ve played with, and it shows in moments and games like tonight where he just finds a way to impact winning in his own way.”Steph Curry
All of the praise Green received isn’t even about his strongest skill. The 6-foot-6 forward is a former Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All-Defensive team selection, and league leader in steals.
Green is still an integral part of the Golden State Warriors’ title hopes
After the 2019 NBA Finals ended, so did the Warriors dynasty. Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets, Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 season with a torn ACL and subsequent season with a torn Achilles, and Curry missed the majority of 2019-20 with a broken hand. However, hope is on the horizon.
Curry had an MVP-caliber season in 2020-21, guiding the Warriors to the play-in round of the playoffs following a 15-50 finish the year prior. Thompson hopes to rejoin Golden State following his two major injuries, as the 31-year-old is still one of the best three-point shooters in basketball. Joining the Splash Brothers are second overall pick James Wiseman, former first overall pick Andrew Wiggins, as well this year’s two first-rounders; Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
In the middle of all of those players, Green will return for a 10th season. From an on-the-court standpoint to a mentorship role, Green is still an important piece of the puzzle. He may not be one of the five or six leading scorers on a nightly basis, but his role as a defender, passer, and leader will be vital in the Warriors reclaiming their throne atop the NBA.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.