The Golden State Warriors had a huge night on Monday, that’s for sure. Superstar guard Stephen Curry broke Wilt Chamberlain’s franchise scoring record, and the team got a surprising win against the formidable Denver Nuggets.
Buried a bit in the details, though not completely lost, were forward Draymond Green’s 18 points. He started hot from the field, scoring five in the game’s early moments. He shot 7-for-8 overall and hit 2-of-3 3-pointers. Green added his customary assists and rebounds, with seven of each.
It’s part of a trend for Green, who doesn’t even attempt a shot at times, preferring to distribute and play his own brand of other-worldly defense. Check this stat from Anthony Slater of The Athletic, noted after the Denver game.
Green hadn’t scored 18 since a home win over the Rockets on Christmas 2019. Green made two 3s, a couple of midrange shots and a few bunnies at the rim. They can’t expect 18 often, but Green has been more aggressive lately. He has nights of 11, 16, 11 and 18 in four of the past seven games. He didn’t score 11 in all of January.Anthony Slater/The Athletic
That’s an extremely positive trend for the Warriors. Green will never be a prolific scorer — it’s simply not his strength. But with Curry creating wide-open opportunities on offense, Green’s willingness to capitalize on scoring chances is critical to the flow of coach Steve Kerr’s motion system.
Andre Iguodala isn’t around anymore to catch lob passes. Defenses still sag off Green and play him to pass, often giving him a wide-open look at the bucket.
He’s capitalizing more often, which as I said, I consider critical to Golden State’s success.
Case in point: the Warriors just defeated the Nuggets with relative ease. Of course, Curry’s 53 points were the driving factor. But is it really a surprise that when Green plays “Robin” to Curry’s “Batman,” Golden State plays its best? In this case, notching a huge, unpredictable win? I think not.
When Green is a factor on offense, it brings Kerr’s whole system together. Even six, eight, or 10 points can be a vital contribution. In the best evidence available, Green scored 14 points per game in 2016, when the Warriors won 73 games.
So “Money” Green should keep shooting. The cases when he should pull the trigger will be obvious. Often, defenders barely even guard him. That’s when Green has to make them pay — especially in the paint — as he did on Monday and has been doing with much more regularity lately.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)