Plain and simple, Draymond Green is the heartbeat of the best team in the National Basketball Association. He is the engine that keeps the train going, and in this case, the train that is setting records left and right and are on the verge of breaking one that was conceived as impossible to do. Barring misfortune, the Golden State Warriors will break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-win record that’s been classified as one of the more incredible feats in all of sports (they have at least tied it). Green has been an essential part of the Warriors’ foundation and continues to dazzle members of Dub Nation as well as basketball fans worldwide with the type of effort he puts out on display.
Green is having an even better year now than he did last season, which leaves many to wonder. . . is he the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year?
From a numbers standpoint, he’s among the top of the list. Alongside teammate Stephen Curry, who is just a man amongst boys in the league right now, Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum comes to mind. Portland has been cruising this year despite losing four out of their five starters last season, including LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers have overachieved and along with Damian Lillard, McCollum has been a vital part of the team’s impressive play.
Arguably, Draymond has been just as or even more impressive. He continues to guard every position on the floor and is one of the better defenders in the league. His versatility allows Golden State to have him play center and run their Death Lineup, which teams have been unable to stop. Green holds his own against centers, despite his much smaller frame. He fights on the glass and is still able to lead a fastbreak with two of the most lethal shooters in the world, Curry and Klay Thompson.
Green is averaging 13.8 points per game this season compared to last season's 11.7 on better shooting, 48 percent to 44 percent, better from the three-point line, now at 39 percent compared to 33 percent, and although the number isn't that high, he's shooting 69 percent from the free-throw line now on two more attempts than he was last season at 66 percent. He is averaging over twice as many assists now with 7.4 compared to 3.7 and rebounding the ball at a better rate with 9.6 boards a game instead of 8.2.
The heartbeat of the Warriors is leading all forwards in the league in assists, and yes, that does include LeBron James and Nicolas Batum. He's only behind Russell Westbrook (surprise, surprise) in triple-doubles. He's also become the first player in NBA history to have 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in a season. Did I mention he's versatile? In 81 games this season, Draymond has held his opposition to a mere 39 percent shooting from the field, via NBA.com's player tracking tool. They've come into the game averaging 46 percent.
Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said that while Curry is the MVP of the league, Green is the MVP of the team. On some nights, that statement is true. Teams will always have two or three guys trying to contain the world's best player, so guys like Green and Thompson have to be ready to step up when it matters most. The team is full of quiet players, with the exception of Green. Head coach Steve Kerr jokingly said the Warriors have a team full of likable guys, outside of Green. Along with Matt Barnes, he's the poster child of the player you love when he's on your team, and hate as an opponent.
The Warriors have had the misfortunate of Green missing a game this season, and they were dominated the entire contest. He brings vocal leadership to the team and a bruiser down low that can consistently do the dirty work. He should have won Defensive Player of the Year last season and will most likely get snubbed of the award again this year. And while McCollum has had memorable season, let's just hope the voters recognize and don't Forget About Dray.