Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green’s one ‘liability’ is hurting the Warriors’ playoff chances

“Liability” isn’t a word ideally associated with a great NBA player.

But then again, Draymond Green isn’t your normal superstar.

A three-time NBA champion with Golden State, Green most impacts the game on the defensive end as an undersized big man with uncanny awareness. He’s also one of the best passing forward/centers of all time, averaging more than six assists per game each year for the past six campaigns.

He’s been voted All-NBA defense five times, led the league in steals once and earned All-Star status three times. There’s more: he’s been named All-NBA twice and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016-17, the same year he led the NBA in steals.

But he can’t shoot. He’s really bad at it, is what I mean. The word that Anthony Slater of The Athletic used was “liability.”

Here’s more of what Slater wrote. Before this passage, he explains how crucial Green’s defense and playmaking was to the Warriors when he returned from injury, especially in Stephen Curry’s 62-point performance against the Blazers.

But it was also fitting that Green only scored one point in that game. That’s who he has become at this stage of his career — the anchor and brains of a top-10 level defense, the emotional engine of a confident team, an offensive organizer and playmaker, but a liability as a scorer.

Green scored a quiet 31 points on 30 shots, spread over seven games, on the homestand. Part of the reason that teams are so able to swarm Curry is because of Green’s inability to scare teams as a shooting threat. That won’t change. The Warriors must find ways to work through it because Green must play 30-plus minutes every night for this team to survive in all other areas.

The Athletic/Anthony Slater

So Green’s lack of confidence shooting field goals is negatively impacting the Warriors on offense, but Golden State must work around that issue because of how important Green is in all other areas of the game. And Slater says “that won’t change.” That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Because while it’s most likely true, how can that be? Green only has to be a far below average scorer to help the Warriors defeat the box-and-one-type zone defenses meant to stop Curry, but Draymond is almost completely inept. With the space that Curry creates, there are chances near the rim for Green but he largely avoids shooting the ball at all.

Is it possible Green’s verbal (almost physical) altercation with coach Steve Kerr in 2016 rattled his confidence? Green shot 38 percent from the 3-point line that season, but hasn’t shot better than 30 percent in any one season since then, with his percentage diminishing every year. (You can read more about the incident by clicking here, courtesy of FOX Sports and ESPN.)

Maybe a little bit. But Green’s strength, even as a rookie, was never his shooting. He’s struggled to score for most of his career, but in the Warriors’ 73-win season, he played a bit above his head. The entire team was in a zone (well, until they were up 3-1 in the NBA Finals, that is.)

But right now, in 2021, all the Warriors need is a small taste off offensive ability from Green, rather than his current ineptitude. He appears to have the yips finishing inside, as best illustrated recently by his horrible missed dunk against the Pacers. If he could hit open dunks and layups consistently, that would be huge. He probably will hit or miss on those, unfortunately, and remarkably.

That’s why I propose Green work on his mid-range game, namely his set shot. It’s the easist shot for a guy with the yips inside. I have to say, I feel like I know what Draymond is going through. In my playing days, I excelled in multiple areas, none of them involved scoring form inside. The mid-randge jumper was my friend. Just the right distance. Nobody was guarding me, and it loosed up my more talented teammates for better shots.

Layup, dunks, some short jump shots. I’m not asking much. Because I can’t stand for Draymond Green to be this large of a liability — and there’s no way he should, either. If the Warriors are to make the playoffs this season, the predicament Green is putting the Warriors in almost certainly must change for the better.

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