Warriors' Draymond Green 'Wholeheartedly' Believes He's 'The Best Defender Ever'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2019

Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green celebrates a score against the Houston Rockets during the second half of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green considers himself the greatest defensive player in NBA history.

"The best defender ever? Me," Green told Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic after the Dubs' 114-111 Game 2 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

"That's what I believe," he added. "Wholeheartedly."

Green slid to the second round of the 2012 draft in large part because he was viewed as a tweener—a player without a defined position based on his size and skill set.

Seven years later, it's clear those traits have helped make him one of the NBA's top defenders because he possesses the size and strength (6'7", 230 lbs) to defend post players while maintaining the quickness and athleticism necessary to handle wing scorers on defensive switches.

Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala told Thompson that jack-of-all-trades ability has made Green to defense what Carmelo Anthony was to offense in his prime.

"When people ask me who is one of the toughest players to defend, and I say Melo, they're always like, 'Really?'" Iguodala said. "Maaaan, Melo—he was a fast fat dude with hops. And can shoot. When he hit you with that first step, it was so quick, and then he's strong. People need to stop disrespecting Melo. And Draymond is the Melo of defense."

Green has earned three NBA All-Defensive First Team selections and was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016-17 season.

The debate about the best defender in NBA history may actually be tougher than the greatest-of-all-time conversation because defensive stats are harder to trust.

For example, the all-time leaders in defensive win shares are Bill Russell, Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which is reasonable, but the top-100 list also features Duncan's longtime San Antonio Spurs teammates Manu Ginobili (No. 54) and Tony Parker (No. 61), per Basketball Reference.

Green doesn't even crack the top 100.

Even when factoring in career length and looking at the first seven years of players' careers, Green only draws roughly level with Ginobili.

So, while Ginobili and Parker were solid defenders during the Spurs' dynasty, it illustrates how a team's overall defensive structure and success can influence defensive statistics. A lot of what goes into being a top-tier defender won't show up in any stat line.

Green is coming off a regular season in which his numbers faded, but he's illustrated throughout the playoffs his value to the Warriors is still immense, especially with Kevin Durant sidelined by a calf injury.

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