Golden State Warriors fans can get excited now every time they hear the phrase "X Factor" for the rest of the season.
One, because they know they won’t have to watch the singing competition on Fox anymore and two, it should make them think of Draymond Green.
Green is giving the Warriors exactly what they need each and every night and is proving to be invaluable to the team.
And you wouldn’t be able to tell how vital he really is by looking at his game log. In fact, there is no real stat I can throw at you to show you how good he has been.
For the season, he is averaging 3.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Not exactly Rookie of the Year numbers, yet he has been the most important rookie for the Warriors to date.
The Warriors are off to an 18-10 start and a big reason for that is the improved defense and the fact that everyone has a clear defined role.
Green is a big part of both of those turnarounds.
Everyone knows that Stephen Curry is the top scoring option. David Lee will work tirelessly on the boards and use his array of post moves to score on the block.
Klay Thompson is there to stretch the defense and shoot. Jarrett Jack provides strong leadership and is a great ball-handler and Carl Landry provides an excellent offensive scoring punch off the bench while Festus Ezeli is holding things down if/when Andrew Bogut gets back.
And Green? His role is to do whatever he can to help the team win.
And luckily for the Warriors, he knows and accepts that fact. He is exactly the type of player that Golden State has sorely missed in previous seasons.
Previous losing seasons.
In an article by Ric Bucher (via CSNBayArea.com) Green stated:
“Guys don’t stick at this level if they can’t defend unless they can really stick it in the hole. My role is to bring some defense and energy. Scoring is not my role.”
How refreshing is it to have a player on your team that would say that?
Despite being the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, Green fell to the second round of the 2012 NBA draft?
Because he didn’t have a true position or possess the skill-set that screamed NBA star.
While everyone is trying to find the next Manu Ginobili or Monta Ellis late in drafts, teams bypassed a winner. A player who will do whatever is asked of him and is versatile enough to perform eloquently. How many teams that passed on him wouldn’t want this guy on their team now?
If they knew that a player would be able to help a team such as the Warriors improve their defensive play this much, it’s doubtful he would fall to the second round.
Green is tough, strong and physical. And no one will out work or hustle him. Coach Mark Jackson has done a great job finding the right matchup for him each game—which is easy to do because Green can guard pretty much every position on the floor. His versatility is going a long way for the improved defensive play.
And it’s not just his defense that’s keeping him on the floor. His all-around game is earning him minutes at the end of games allowing him to make plays like this.
Who would have guessed that of all their rookie picks that the second-rounder would have made the biggest impact this far?
That play shows off his high basketball I.Q., which is off the charts. And he knows it.
Green stated in an article from Rusty Simmons: (via SFGate.com)
"I watch and think about a lot of stuff on the basketball court, and I continue to study the game, because my IQ has to be the strongest part of my game. I know I'm not the most athletic, not the fastest, not the strongest, not the quickest and not the highest jumper. My understanding of the game can't come to a standstill, or my improvement will come to a standstill."
How many players are that aware of their skill set and don’t get paid the maximum or close too?
And how can Jackson keep a guy off the floor who knows exactly what is needed to make the most of his minutes?
The answer is, he can’t.
In that same article, Jackson stated regarding Green:
"He doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well, but he does everything very well. The guy is just a tremendous competitor”
That’s exactly right. And his play is infectious.
Taking charges, diving for loose balls and providing energy is not the norm for most NBA players. And those are not the things that show up in his game logs. But they resonate not just throughout the team, but to the fans as well.
Hearing the crowd get fired up after Green gets on the floor goes a long way when they’re playing on back-to-back nights. Watching him give 100 percent all the time should inspire the rest of the team to do the same.
And so far it has.
In games where Green has played 19 or more minutes, the Warriors own an 8-2 record. And it should be noted that in the recent home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Green logged only 11 minutes. Jackson should heed his own comments and leave Green out on the floor.
Green has been a valuable addition to the surprising Warriors. Remember, this is a team that lost Brandon Rush and a starting center that has played in only two games. It would have been really easy for Golden State to have a losing record right now. But that doesn’t fly with a player like Green, or for the rest of the team around him. He has helped turn this bunch into winners.
The Warriors appear to have a player that is willing and capable to do whatever it takes to win. He just needs to be on the floor to do it.