Barber: Warriors' Draymond Green tries to teach, not yell
SAN FRANCISCO — One minute and 14 seconds into Friday night’s game at Chase Center, the ball went through the net for the first time. It was a spot-on 3-point shot from the elbow, launched by none other than Draymond Green.
There was a time when a long-distance shot from the Warriors power forward would have caused some eyebrows to arch, in sort of a pass-the-ball-to-Steph-or-Klay sort of way. But Stephen Curry won’t play for at least the next three months, and it will be a miracle if Klay Thompson sees the court at any time this season. Even Kevon Looney is out with a strangely unresponsive hamstring injury.
So Green will be asked to score some points this season. And so, so much more.
“For me, I went from like second brother in line to the older brother, which is a completely different thing,” Green said after the Warriors’ morning shootaround, a few hours before a 127-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center. “I’ve never been that in my NBA career. So that’s an adjustment, but one that I’m excited about. And on the court, leading in all facets. Offensive end, the defensive end, being more aggressive.”
This was always going to be an arduous season for Green. With Thompson rehabbing his ACL, Golden State’s leadership council had been reduced to Green, Curry and Looney. Now the whole thing is on Green’s shoulders.
“Right now he’s kind of the lone survivor, so he’s got to help all these young guys and teach them what we’ve been about, help to mentor them, and the most important thing is to carry on with the way we’ve gone about our business over the last five years plus,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Friday’s game. “In terms of preparation, work ethic and joy and everything that we’ve been about, it’s got to carry forward because that’s what the culture is about. The players are the ones who really carry that, and so we will be relying heavily on Draymond for that.”
If anyone can hold up under such a burden, it’s Draymond Green. But man, it’s a lot to ask.
This season will be a challenge for everyone in the Warriors organization, but no one more than Green. He’s a player who relies on guile and sequential thinking, surrounded by young players still learning the finer points of the game. He’s a lock-down defender on a team that has yet to prove it can play even passable defense. He’s a three-time NBA champion on a team that suddenly looks destined for 28-54.
So far, at least by the coach’s reckoning, Green has embraced the role.
“He’s been great in our meetings, practices,” Kerr said. “He’s taken on a real leadership role. He understands how much our young players need him and he’s been fantastic. He’s also one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met in my life, and so this will be a big challenge for him and for everybody.”
It’s a model that could be incredibly valuable for the Warriors’ younger players. Or it could explode in everybody’s face.
Green is a natural teacher. He sees the game from all angles and likes to discuss its finer points. He is also — and you may have received a few subtle hints of this over the past seven years — an emotional athlete. His veins course with pride and exuberance and aggression and, sometimes, rage.