Warriors’ Draymond Green wants “to be Defensive Player of the Year again” and has a compelling case so far
Draymond Green is almost unquestionably the definitive defensive player of this generation. He may not be known for the more traditional man-to-man defense that Kawhi Leonard plays or the rim protection offered by Rudy Gobert, but he is the poster boy for the NBA’s evolution towards the small ball. . His rare ability to defend all five positions at an elite level unlocked the heavy switch system that helped the Golden State Warriors win three championships, but Green’s personal trophy case is not as complete. While he won the title of Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, he could easily have won two more trophies in 2015 and 2016. He lost close races to Leonard in both seasons, and the emergence of Gobert made Green’s return even more difficult. in the race.
But that has changed this season. Green’s 15-2 Warriors have the best defense in the NBA, and he wants to be recognized for it. “I want to win. I want to be defensive player of the year again and be an All-Star again,” said Green. told reporters after Golden State’s 119-104 win over the Raptors on Sunday. “And that motivates me because a lot of people had kicked me out. The same mistake people made before when I first entered the league.”
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It’s too early in the season to declare a favorite for an award, but Green needs to top any nominee list for 17 games. Golden State awards exactly 100 points for every 100 possessions. The second-place Clippers allow 102, and while Green is backed by a roster that’s significantly stronger defensively than any he’s had in recent years, it’s not as if that has ever stopped anyone from winning this award. . If Leonard could win it twice with Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, Andrew Wiggins and Gary Payton II shouldn’t hold back Green in a race without other immediate highlights.
Gobert remains an elite defenseman, but Utah has fallen to 11th defensive, and many of his personal defensive numbers have plummeted. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be heard, but the Milwaukee Bucks suffered so many early-season injuries that couldn’t make a strong first impression on voters.
It’s hard to believe that Green only won the award once. He’s arguably the most accomplished playoff defenseman of the past decade, but he’s been overshadowed by Golden State’s offensive firepower in the regular season. Hopefully that changes this season. The Warriors are dominant at both ends of the field. Stephen Curry deserves most of the credit offensively, but Green carries the Warriors’ defense, and if he continues, he will get the second trophy he apparently covets.