Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is having quite the breakout year, garnering his first All-Star selection, leading the league in triple-doubles with 10, and playing a pivotal role in Golden State’s historical season. He’s even in the race for the MVP award.
There’s also been a lot of praised heaped on Green regarding the way he plays. Analysts label him ‘Uniquely versatile’, that he’s ‘defining a new position’ and that he’s ‘creating a new way to play the forward position.’ But is all this praise warranted, or is it all just hyperbole?
When thinking of unique forwards, a few names spring to mind. Players such as Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion, and Lamar Odom were a precursor to what is now known as the ‘Stretch 4’: A forward (Usually a Power Forward) who can spot up around the three-point line and stretch out the defense. These men paved the way for players such as Green to flourish in the league today.
But just how good is Draymond Green compared to other versatile wings of the NBA’s past? Let’s find out.
For this, we’ll compare each of Green’s, Odom’s, and Diaw’s best seasons.
Firstly, let’s look at Green’s 2015-16 campaign so far. Through 51 games, Green is averaging 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals per game in 34 minutes. He’s shooting 48% from the field and 42% from deep, which is respectable. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER), which measures per-minute production while on the court, is 19.8, which is 45th in NBA, but still above average. Green ranks 9th in Win Shares in the entire league, with 7.5, which is nothing to laugh at.
What is interesting to note is that Draymond Green actually averages 0.8 more assists per game than his team’s Point Guard, Stephen Curry, and is actually 7th in the NBA for assists per game, which is a testament to how well Green can run an offense as a forward.
Head Coach Steve Kerr has some influence on this, as he prefers Curry playing off-ball and making cuts to get open for three while Green plays a ‘Point Forward’ role. Green is also 2nd among forwards and 17th in the entire league in Assist/Turnover ratio with 2.48, which measures how many assists a player gets for every turnover they have. This shows us that Green has a variety of ways to impact a game, is a solid and reliable third option on a championship team, and gives us a good base for comparison.
Lamar Odom has had some stellar seasons for several NBA franchises, including his 2010-11 season where he won Sixth Man of the Year honors coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers. But in my opinion, Odom’s best season was in 2005-06, his second season with the Lakers.
Through 80 games, Odom averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1 block and 1 steal a game, playing a whopping 40 minutes a game at the Power Forward position. He shot 48% from the field, and 37% from three-point land, less efficient compared to Green. He had a PER of 17 on the season, and contributed 9.2 to the Win Shares column. From this, we can determine that A) Odom was less efficient per-minute than Green and B) that Odom contributed more wins to his Lakers squad.
The final piece to this puzzle is the Frenchman, Boris Diaw. Many of you will know that he currently comes off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs, but few of you may remember his time starting for the Phoenix Suns in 2005-06 while Amare Stoudemire was out with a knee injury. Diaw thrived in the 7 seconds or less offense run by Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni.
Diaw was pivotal in running the offense through the post, and would execute many pick and fades with Steve Nash. During this season, Diaw played in 81 games, and averaged 13 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 0.7 steals and 1 block a game, all the while playing 35 minutes a game. He was very efficient, shooting 53% on the season, but only 26% from deep. He had a Player Efficiency Rating of 17.3, almost equal with Odom’s, and had 8.9 Win Shares, ranking him just behind Lamar Odom.
So, is Draymond Green truly a unique player and redefining the forward position? To be honest, no, he isn’t. As you can see above, players have come before him and done what he is doing this season, even better in some aspects. Don’t get me wrong, Draymond is a very versatile player and is a nightmare matchup for most teams with his unique skillset, but all the hype surrounding how he is a one-of-a-kind player is a flat-out lie.
Draymond Green is an extremely good player, but so were the likes of Lamar Odom and Boris Diaw. Don’t buy into the hyperbole.
But, the Warriors are playing amazing this season and they can break the Bulls 95/96 record, so Draymond Green's impact on the game is better than Lamar Odom or Boris Diaw were had in the past.
By Bradster, Contributor.