1,005 days is a long time to wait to play with your beloved teammates. However, that’s exactly how long Draymond Green had to do it, because of Klay Thompson’s long absence, and then his own injury. Sure, he technically took part in the opening tipoff of Thompson’s first game back, but that was simply ceremonial. He got subbed out right in the opening seconds of the game.
He played for real this time around against the Washington Wizards though, and came off the bench to put in 20 minutes of work. Funnily enough, he had a classic Draymond stat line as well, a quadruple-single of six points, seven rebounds, six assists, and a steal. If you count his three turnovers, it was a quintuple-single.
If you initially looked at that line and thought he had a mediocre game, you couldn’t be blamed. However, when you factor in that he finished with a game-best plus/minus of +24, it becomes easier to remember how important he is to this Golden State Warriors team and their title aspirations. He is their most vocal leader, and an unselfish playmaker with a high basketball IQ.
Green has a feel for Curry and Thompson’s game that’s been built over a decade. Even after missing 31 games, it was abundantly clear that his penchant for getting Curry the ball in places that he loves to shoot from had not dulled. It’s fitting that his first possession in his return game was an assist for a Curry triple.
The Warriors cannot replace Green’s immense value on the floor. It’s even more apparent when you take into account how Curry scored 47 points, six rebounds and six assists, but came second in plus/minus with +17. With Draymond back in the lineup, so much pressure gets taken off Curry from a playmaking perspective, allowing him to focus on what he does best: put the ball in the hoop.
It’s also worth noting that Thompson had a good outing too, finishing with 20 points and four assists. Sure, he didn’t shoot that well, going 7 of 19 from the field, but a big part of that is because he jacked up 12 three-pointers and made four of them.
This whole reunion has been worth its weight in gold in memes.
There are a ton of teams, including the league-leading Phoenix Suns, that look like they have a great shot at making the NBA Finals. However, we shouldn’t sleep on the Warriors, especially if Green continues to get into better shape. We’re just a month away from the start of the playoffs, so it’s a great time for him to come back and acclimate his mind and body before the postseason grind begins. The playoffs were already looking to be wild in both conferences, but the Warriors are solidly in the mix among title contenders.