OAKLAND — Draymond Green has effectively picked up where he left off in last year's playoffs — and then some — through the Warriors' first 18 games. He's doing all the little things that help teams win, and occasionally mixing in an eye-catching moment like the big 3-point basket he drained down the stretch in Sacramento on Sunday night, or the even more important tip-in he made with 28 seconds left that helped Golden State eke out a 115-113 victory.
What's more, aside from being coach Mark Jackson's "glue guy" for a bench cast still finding its way, Green is also stepping back into his familiar role as a game-finisher with the starters. It's a high honor for which the second-year forward is thankful whenever he gets the nod.
"I've never worried in my entire life about starting a game," Green said Monday. "You want to be out there to finish the game, and I relish that opportunity. Anytime I'm in that situation, I just try to give all I can give."
In Green's case, it's more than just energy and hustle. His smarts and versatility have Jackson calling on him with the game on the line. The coach doesn't know how it will manifest itself, only that Green has the intangibles — and fearlessness — for the role.
"One thing that's underrated with him is his ability to go get the basketball," Jackson said. "Down the stretch, you have to have guys on the floor with that mentality. Good things happen more times than not."
Green doesn't know where that quality comes from but is glad it's part of his basketball makeup.
"We're all blessed with certain things, so I guess it's just a knack," he said. "I thrive on those situations, to be able to make that play. But it's not all about scoring. That's the play that everybody will notice, but it's not all about that. It's about setting screens, getting Steph (Curry) open, helping on defense, locking a man down on defense, coming up with a rebound, coming up with a loose ball, interrupting (opponents') offense.
"I never really worry about the things everybody will notice. I like to focus on things that people won't notice."
What can't help but be noticed, though, is how Green is shooting the ball. His fourth-quarter 3-pointer against the Kings — he made his only two long-range bombs of the night — gave him 14 for the year. That's how many 3-pointers he made in the entire regular season last year over 79 games. He's also making a higher percentage — .389 (14 for 36) compared with .209 (14 for 67) a year ago.
Green gave a preview of his capabilities in last year's playoffs, when he made 9 of 23 3-point attempts despite many people cringing when he pulled up to fire. One of those who wasn't second-guessing, however, was Jackson.
"I never thought about it last year, even when some of our announcers were questioning whether he should shoot the basketball or whether I should shut him down," Jackson said. "He put the work in, he competes, and when he gets open looks, we want him to shoot the basketball, and that's the way it's going to be until I'm no longer here or he's no longer here."
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