Statistics paint a glowing portrait of the defensive campaign that Draymond Green has put together for the Golden State Warriors. During the regular season, the Dubs allowed just 102.8 points per 100 possessions scored when he was on the floor. Meanwhile, opponents’ two-point field-goal percentages dropped a whopping 10.2% on average when Green was the closest defender.
Had he appeared in more than 46 games, he likely would have been a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year, an award he previously won in 2017.
Not everyone is fully sold on the four-time All-Star’s defensive prowess, though. In particular, Green’s ability to guard the center position is being challenged after Nuggets’ big man Nikola Jokic averaged 31 points per game against Golden State in Round 1 of postseason play. And an NBA lifer is leading the charge.
Namely, 17-year pro baller turned Suns broadcaster Eddie Johnson.
Johnson Spouts Off
In response to a tweet about Jokic from NBC Sports Bay Area’s Grant Liffman, Johnson fired off a scorching hot take on Green’s ability to hang with the trees.
“You know every center plays great against Warriors,” Johnson tweeted. “Draymond is 6’6. I did not know if you knew that. Win, yes Jokic is amazing, but win.”
Of course, there’s no denying that Jokic gave Golden State problems (as he would any other team in the Association). It’s also true that the Warriors have struggled, at times, against high-level pivot players when there’s a significant size advantage. That will probably continue to be the case, too.
However, to single out Green — a multi-positional defensive maven — as being wholly incapable of slowing down opposing bigs isn’t just ill-informed, it’s flat wrong. And Johnson needs only to look at his own team to see his narrative fall flat.
Although the Suns’ Deandre Ayton — a near seven-footer and one of the better centers league-wide — averaged 20 points per game against the Warriors across four matchups this season, he really struggled when he was guarded by Green. Per league tracking data, the former No. 1 pick was just 8-for-21 from the floor with three turnovers across 91.8 partial possessions with Green checking him.
Other exceptions to Johnson’s “rule” can be found as well.
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Fans Are Taking Johnson to Task
The numbers — and even the eye test — aren’t the only things standing in firm opposition to Johnson’s story. Fans were quick to call him out for his strange take as well.
“Didn’t know it was possible for a former NBA player and current color analyst to not understand how dominant of a defender Draymond is,” tweeted one fan. “But wow this is a naive take.”
“Tell me you don’t understand modern basketball without telling me you don’t know a lick about modern basketball,” read a second reply to Johnson’s tweet.
“Is this a joke? Draymond is a great interior defender. And his standing reach is much higher then [sic] most 6 6 players,” added a third commenter.