Heading into the season, the Golden State Warriors are in a great position to defend their championship. After dealing with injuries to Klay Thompson for two years, they managed to re-climb the NBA ladder last season and now look primed to continue their dominance.
However, the old guard isn’t getting any younger. Thompson has yet to play a full season since the 2018-19 year, Stephen Curry is 34 years old, and Draymond Green is already 32. And based on recent reporting, it’s the latter of those three who could take a step back next year.
According to Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area, the Warriors could choose to save Green for the playoffs. Last year, he missed a lot of time with a back injury, and after he got back, he just wasn’t the same. If they want to get the most out of him next year, they might have to ensure his health for the postseason.
“Since taking over in the starting lineup, Green has averaged 31.8 minutes per game the last eight seasons. He shouldn’t be pushing past 30 too often.
“Steve Kerr and the Warriors know when they need their defensive star and point-forward the most — the playoffs. The Warriors’ core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green are all going to have to start taking a step back in playing time to preserve themselves, but when it’s go-time for Green, he’ll be out to prove himself,” Johnson wrote on September 14.
Johnson also pointed out Green’s post-injury drop-off and how important he was to the Warriors’ top-tier defense.
Green is Crucial to Warriors’ Success
Before he got hurt, Green was playing at a Defensive Player of the Year level. Afterward, things weren’t quite the same. However, he was still extremely important to Golden State’s defensive success.
“In the 12 regular-season games (10 starts) that Green played after recovering from his injury, he averaged 6.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. His plus-minus was an average of minus-0.4. Before the injury, his plus-minus was an average of plus-5.9.
“The Warriors had a defensive rating of 104.2 with Green on the court last season. But without him, that number ballooned to 112.0. His 103 defensive rating per 100 possessions was his best since winning the DPOY in 2016-17, and Green’s 4.6 defensive box plus-minus was a career-high,” Johnson noted.
It will be up to the Warriors to slow him down, however.
Warriors Will Need to Slow Down Green
Green has never been the type of player to sit out games by choice. He always plays with lots of intensity, and his energy is infectious. If the Warriors want to save him for the playoffs, they’ll have to make that decision themselves.
“They’ll take a determined Draymond every day of the week,” Johnson said. “He’ll be full throttle this season, though the Warriors might have to remind him the importance of pulling back the reins and staying in the stable here and there.”
There’s always a chance that Green plays at a DPOY level again next year, but as he gets older, the Warriors might have to start being careful with his minutes.