Draymond Green is ready to hit the ground running in the Golden State Warriors‘ title defense season.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr shared some big praise for the veteran big man as the team opened training camp on Saturday. Kerr said the team got started with an exhausting first practice, pitting the veterans against the younger players in a full-speed scrimmage to prepare for a preseason trip to Japan. After a season marked by injuries, Green’s play — and his conditioning — caught the coach’s attention.
Warriors Veterans Dominate, Green Shines
Kerr told reporters that Golden State’s veterans didn’t show much rust a little more than three months after leading the team to a fourth title in the last eight seasons. They easily won against the team’s young core in the scrimmage, with Green leading the way.
“The group that just won the title a few months ago basically dominated practice,” Kerr said, via The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “As they should. The scrimmage, the live stuff, they looked fantastic. Draymond had a great practice.”
As Slater noted, Green had a leg up in the last offseason as he competed in the Olympics, allowing him to come into training camp in top form. But Kerr noted on Saturday that Green looked great this year as well, both during game action and as a veteran leader to his younger teammates.
“His conditioning looked good, his body looked good,” Kerr said. “He was really moving well both laterally and sprint speed up and down the floor. He was mentoring the young guys, coaching them up in drill work. Then on the floor, the blue team — with Looney, Steph, Wiggs — that group just demolished everybody.”
Green Coming Off Injury-Marked Season
The praise from Kerr could be especially important given the injuries that plagued Green during the team’s title season. The Warriors big man missed 32 games last season due to a back injury, and the team struggled in his absence with a stretch that included a five-game losing stream.
In a recent appearance on the “Checc’n In” podcast, Green revealed that his back injury was more serious than initially reported.
“My L5 and S1 disks is herniated, so it’s bulging out and it’s hitting my sciatica nerve,” Green said.
Green said he went through a painful rehab that had the added benefit of helping him to correct his posture.
“I wasn’t on the bench or I didn’t travel with the team or anything for two months because I couldn’t sit down. Like I was either standing or laying down,” Green said. “Until this injury, I never noticed how bad my posture is. For eight weeks, I didn’t do anything but core strengthening in the weight room.”
Green added that his body was now in “the best shape” it’s ever been, which could be key to the Warriors’ title defense. The team lost a number of big men in the offseason, with Otto Porter Jr. joining the Toronto Raptors and Nemanja Bjelica returning to his former team in Turkey.