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Mark Jackson Compares Draymond Green to LeBron James on Defense

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 16: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors controls the ball against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat on January 16, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Mark Jackson is at it again.

Hyperbole is the primary language of the continuously confident Golden State Warriors head coach, and his native tongue has prompted him to say some pretty incredible things. His latest jaunt into bold commentary has him comparing Draymond Green to LeBron James.

From the Contra Costa TimesDiamond Leung:

A day after the Warriors' Draymond Green helped spark a comeback win at Portland, coach Mark Jackson was mentioning him in the same sentence as LeBron James.

To Jackson, the only other player who could compare with Green in being able to legitimately guard all five positions was the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player.

'Those two guys have the size, the strength, the knowledge, the competitive spirit in my opinion to do that,' Jackson said of James and Green, who he said was a 'genius basketballwise.'

Now, Jackson isn't saying Green is a better defender than James. But even after that disclaimer, the mere mention of Green and James in the same sentence that doesn't include "viscously posterized by" feels unclean.

Jackson, however, has never shied away from making claims that may go against the grain or feel premature.

Last April, he called Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson the best shooting backcourt in NBA history, per CSN's Kyle Bonagura. Next to the James-Green comparison, that seems tame.

To be clear, it's the comparison itself that's exaggerated, not the premise.

Green has been a capable defender against all different types of players. Like James, according to 82games.com, he has seen time guarding almost every position.

James vs. Green: Opponent's PER by Position
PlayerPGSGSFPFC
GreenN/A010.911.223.0
JamesN/A11.910.714.80
Via 82games.com.

Let's not start looping Green, a sophomore, into the same conversation as James, though.

While Green's overall defensive rating (97) is higher than James' (105) this season, he is not yet worthy of being attached to the reigning MVP and two-time NBA champion. Not even when James isn't having his usual, statistically dominant impact on the defensive end, and most certainly not when Green plays more than 15 fewer minutes per game.

There are only a handful of players throughout NBA history who could legitimately defend all five positions. After more than a decade of play, James has earned his keep as one of the most versatile defenders ever. Green, less than two years into his career, isn't there yet. Not even close.

Maybe one day he could be. Looking ahead, years down the line, we could be talking about Green as one of history's more interchangeable defenders. Right now, he's only just started to enter the ranks of elite stoppers.

"It's a tremendous luxury," Jackson said of having someone like Green, per Leung.

That it is, and the Warriors should consider themselves lucky come playoff time, when Green's defense will be even more valuable. But Jackson, like he tends to do, is getting ahead himself, placing Green atop a pedestal he may never actually reach.

 

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

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