Yes, points scored ultimately determines wins and losses in basketball, but Draymond Green is showing how valuable other aspects of the game are.
On a night where Stephen Curry had more misses from the field (14) than points (season-low nine), the Golden State Warriors nevertheless pulled off a 115-108 victory over the gutsy Miami Heat.
Nevermind that the Heat were missing the likes of Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent, or that Jimmy Butler sprained his right ankle with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Miami was undermanned in this contest but still had Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin and Omer Yurtseven to pick up the slack.
Green for his part did not score until the 4:54 mark of the third quarter, but he still managed to do damage thanks in large part to his 13 assists, which was a third of what the Warriors would finish with (39). That he had more rebounds (eight) than points (five) only adds to how unique his numbers are on any given night.
Curry himself would atone for his scoring struggles with 10 assists, while Jordan Poole found himself easing into his bench role as evidenced by his game-high 32 points. Andrew Wiggins, who scored 22 points, also benefited from the openings Green made and Curry produced despite his off night.
Golden State’s offense is partly predicated by timing and the understanding of everyone’s role on a given play and Green’s awareness with regard to both was on full display.
Running the offense from various spots on the floor has been Green’s role for nearly a decade, but it’s also his ability to know what his team needs that makes him effective on both ends of the floor. Sometimes, it’s being at the center of a key defensive stop or it could be a screen that opens up the driving lane. At times, it could be both.
It’s a common sight in Warriors games to see Green barking out instructions on the court and even on the bench. Moreover, his improvisation has also helped extend plays and create openings that were initially not there. This also creates spillover effects, as his passes allow those on the receiving end to either make plays for themselves or their other teammates, generating the hockey assists that have gotten more attention with pass-happy teams like Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs.
The layers the three-time All-Star adds to the offense comes due to his chemistry with Curry, with whom he has the ability to reset plays with. Like a quarterback and his trusted receiver, both know that as long as either of them runs to their spots, the other will find them at the right time despite the coverage on them. As it is so well-documented, Green uses it to his advantage to create some misdirection and disguise his other intended targets.
On defense, Green can cover multiple areas on the floor and uses his smarts to negate the height advantages typical NBA centers have on him. The three-time NBA champion’s relentless motor on that side of the ball is a reflection of how a defensive stop is not a blocked shot or a tight contest, but when the opponent’s offensive possession is disrupted and effectively cut short.
Green’s aggression can at times hold him back, as foul trouble and bad gambles on defense benefit his opponents. It also remains to be seen how he will fare against more skilled and experienced big men such as the likes of the New Orleans Pelicans’ Jonas Valaciunas, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, all of whom Green and the Warriors will face in the next 10 days.
Points win games, but smarts win championships and no one exemplifies that for the Golden State Warriors more than Draymond Green. It goes without saying that Green is the heart and soul of the Warriors on both ends of the floor and despite his unconventional numbers, he will be a huge factor in determining Golden State’s title chances this season.