Draymond Green has not been on the field for the Golden State Warriors since their January 5 loss (other than the opening tip when Klay Thompson returned) to the Dallas Mavericks. In Green’s absence, the Warriors are 13-8, but looking at the team makes it clear how important Draymond is to the team’s overall functionality. Since February 1, the Warriors have fallen from No. 1 in defensive efficiency in the entire league to 22nd.
Golden State suffered another heavy loss to the Clippers on Monday night, 119-104, and once again it was the defense that disappointed them. In their last seven games, the Warriors are 4-3, giving away 113.3 points per game. That is their worst for a seven-game period this season. Head coach Steve Kerr has no doubt noticed the team’s downward trend in defense.
“The most important thing is that our defense has been bad” Kerr said:† “It’s been six or seven games bad now. It’s hard to win in this league when you look defensive like we are, with so many holes in our games.”
Kerr’s squad was awarded 54 points against the Clippers on Monday night. That is far from the norm for this Warriors team. For the season, Golden State will allow 44.3 points in the paint. That’s an 11-point difference from what this team usually gives up inside. That’s the Draymond Green effect.
†[Draymond] is one of the best defenders in the league so if we don’t have him there we will always miss something,” said Kevon Looney.
When Green is on the pitch, it’s about more than what he’s doing physically. His mindset, knowledge of the game and ability to know where to be defensive at all times set him apart from other players in this era. Green is one of the more versatile defenders the league has seen. He is 6-foot-6 and can effectively guard almost any position when asked to do so. A player of his size who regularly plays in the middle (particularly during the postseason) is rare, even in today’s small-ball NBA.
These Warriors have been great overall this year, but we see they may not go as far as many expect without a healthy Draymond. The Warriors and Phoenix Suns were: fight back and forth for the top seed in the western conference earlier this year. Today, Golden State is five games behind Phoenix and just two games ahead of the Grizzlies in second place. if controversial as he can beGreen’s defense and leadership are the engine that keeps this team going.
Without Green in the lineup, I’m not sure how far Golden State can go in the postseason. Green is making progress with his back injury that has sidelined him since early January, but he could be out for at least a few more weeks. So maybe he won’t be back in the Warriors lineup until sometime in March. As it looks, Golden State could fall out of the top three in the West altogether. Steve Kerr must find a way to keep his team busy defensively while Green is out of line. Otherwise, what started as a surprise season can turn into an unexpected one nightmare not too long ago†