The Golden State Warriors are on an unprecedented run, having followed up their NBA title a season ago with a 16-0 start this year—the best in league history.
Much of their success has been pinned to reigning MVP Stephen Curry, unanimously viewed as the league’s best player. But Wednesday morning, team executive and NBA legend Jerry West said in an interview with KNBR Radio that Draymond Green isn’t far behind Curry among the NBA's elite:
I think honestly we have two of the top 10 players in the league—Draymond Green is the second one. He’s the most underrated player in the NBA, period. There are very few players, I think, anyone in our organization would trade for him. He's just a remarkable player. Watch him handle the ball, watch him make passes, defensively he's everywhere. If he's not a top-10 player in this league, I don't know who is.
The Warriors are undefeated because of their outstanding nucleus—and that they outscore opponents by a whopping 15.6 points per game—and Green offers the defensive versatility to guard any position on the court. He finished second to Kawhi Leonard for Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15.
Green has also emerged as a threat from beyond the arc, shooting 43.5 percent on three-point attempts, more than 10 percentage points above his career average of 33.2.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports offered layered context for West’s comments:
West might be a part of the Golden State front office, but he’s also a dogged competitor that no doubt wants to preserve the impact of his 1972 Lakers’ NBA record 33 straight wins, a mark the Warriors would still need another 38 days (and 18 wins) to break. The mere idea that someone like Mr. West is even tolerating these questions (and that’s not a shot at the Chronicle and Rusty Simmons, who is great!) speaks to how legitimately brilliant these Warriors are.
Considering this praise, it's somewhat surprising Green has never been to an All-Star Game. If West's comments are as valid as they seem, that void should be filled in just a few months' time.
The Warriors are almost a fifth of the way through the season unblemished, which has prompted speculation they may contend with the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the record of 72 wins in a season. If Green continues to complement Curry and the Warriors keep rolling, that high mark may be within the realm of possibility.