Miles Plumlee, Arnett Moultrie, Jared Cunningham and Fab Melo were players drafted ahead of the Golden State Warriors Draymond Green last June.
While they aren't necessarily worse players, it's hard to say any of them are better, more valuable and a smarter than the Dancing Bear.
Drafted 35th overall, Green joined first-round picks Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to form a solid Warriors draft. The first two draft picks filled needs at both the forward spot (Barnes would battle Brandon Rush for the starting job) and center (Andrew Bogut's injury and Andris Biedrins' struggles demanded more frontcourt depth).
Not much was expected out of the former Spartan for this year. Green was initially viewed as end-of-the-bench fodder who would bring energy if called upon. Instead, he has played himself into a 15-minutes-per-game role.
Even though he hasn't gotten as many minutes as he would like in the past two weeks, the injuries of Stephen Curry, Bogut and Biedrins will test the depth of the Warriors. For Green, the Warriors' injury situation is a key development, as he hasn't played over 20 minutes in nine of the past ten games. And one of them was the last game against the Miami Heat when he played a lot in garbage time.
While he will be key to the rest of the Warriors season, it's what Green has done so far that has impressed Warriors coaching/management.
Breaking down Green's game centers around his offense, defense and potential for improvement. We also must keep in mind his draft position and expectations that come with it. While fans and many writers believe that Barnes will blossom into an NBA star, many thought Green would be too small and slow to play the small forward position successfully.
On offense, he has shot terribly from all over the floor, an abysmal 31.5 percent. Even though he hasn't had many opportunities to shoot—as the Golden State offense isn't built around him as it was at Michigan State—he hasn't shown any type of touch from mid-range or the post. There isn't a discernible difference in his shooting form from college to the pros, so it appears to be just a matter of confidence rather than chronic or permanent below-average shooting.
Green's instincts as a cutter and passer are both above-average, as shown by his game-winning shot against the Miami Heat, which resulted on a great slip by him to the basket. On offense, he can surely improve if he can start making the wide-open threes, courtesy of great spacing from Curry and company.
If not, he may just be a borderline NBA player fighting for a roster spot.
On defense, he has the quickness to guard small forwards and the size to keep up with power forwards. And he doesn't back down from either one bit, not even from the King himself. On offense, the Warriors are in the negative with him on the court (minus-0.4), according to 82games.com. On defense, the Warriors are a minus-5.8 with Green on the court, meaning that they benefit greatly from his presence as a Swiss Army Knife defender.
Even with Green's solid play on defense, his atrocious shooting on the offensive end drags his game down. Despite the potential for growth, his performance so far this season warrants a C+.