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Draymond Green Without the Warriors

There has been a lot of talk about how good Draymond Green really is lately. After his incident, I think most people see an end date to the marriage in sight, so it’s reasonable to speculate about this question to gauge his value to other teams. Some people believe he’s mostly a product of a system in Golden State, that allows for the best of his game, and highlights it. A system that they would say hides what he doesn’t do as well offensively like scoring himself, behind an all-time great like Steph Curry, as well as another all time offensive player like Klay Thompson. They are two of the best all time catch and shoot, shooters that are masters of running off screens that Draymond only has to find to get easy assists. He has little pressure to do anything but facilitate on offense.

Even those that believe this see him as almost as essential in anchoring the defense, and his selfless ball movement, and I would fall into that camp as well. If you inserted another similar caliber player I’m not sure it works as well either when his value is nearly all mosting in the complementary things needed around Curry and Thompson. Dryamond is a 4 time All Star, and a 1-time Defensive Player of the year. Some people would even question if he really deserved 4 All Star game but let’s just consider some of the other players who have 4 made All Stars or won 1 defensive player of the year.

These are some of the Players that have played the last 25 years that are retired or past their prime like Draymond is now and unlikely to add another All Star appearance.

4 Time All Stars
Anfernee Hardaway
Ben Wallace
DeMarcus Cousins
Kemba Walker
Paul Millsap
Rajon Rondo
Rasheed Wallace
Shawn Marion
Tom Chambers

The list of 1 time Defensive POY’s include Marcus Camby, Joakim Noah, Marcus Smart, Tyson Chandler, and Marc Gasol.

If you replaced Draymond with a similar caliber player like this off the list would the Warriors still be the Warriors? I believe it’s a fair question. While players like Noah and Gasol could pass and defend, they couldn’t really dribble and bring the ball up the court or push a fast break like Draymond Green could. That ball-handling element was an extra dimension for sure for the Warriors. One that was needed to take the pressure off Curry to be essentially the shooting guard in many ways and the highlight was he does well. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. For many years that also included another defensive first plus ball handler/passer/defender in Andre Iguodala. He also helped make the Warriors what they were.

Draymond is essentially been an all-defensive caliber player of the year candidate on defense that also doubles almost as a point guard on offense. It’s a unique combination of specific skills not really seen before. When Draymond was put at center in the Death Lineup it really unlocked how Golden State could play early on offense, while still being credible on defense. I don’t think had you replaced him with another similar type caliber of players like Ben Wallace, or Paul Millsap, Joakim Noah, or Shawn Marrion the Warriors are as good. Steven Kerr has often talked about Draymond living on the edge emotionally, while it’s certainly burned the team before, it’s also an aspect they needed too.

Draymond’s Defense

The Warriors have always been talked about in the context of an offensive team, but I don’t think the impact Green has on defense can be understated. Last season for example the Warriors were the #1 team on defense while 17th in offense. Even when you go back to their Big 3’s prime’s before KD got there the team was just as much driven by the defense. A defense Draymond anchored. The 73-9 that lost to the Cavs was 1st in Offense, 5th in Defense, but the season prior when they won they were 1st in Defense and 2nd and Offense. Really the best version of the team without Durrant and the one that won the title was 1st in Defense in the NBA not Offense (2nd).

2012 NBA Draft

Draymond was a 4 year player that measured 6-5 and 3/4″ at the NBA Draft Combine that season. The Warriors at 3 picks and would pick him 35th after Harrison Barnes(7th) and Festus Ezeli(30th) and it was stated by Warrior’s management that they went ofr Ezeli because they wanted a center and knew Green would still be there as small, old, and slow as he was. What is not as often mentioned in the measurable is the nearly 7-1+ wingspan Green possessed, and probably the 8-10″ standing reach. Ezeli’s standing reach was also 8-10″ despite being listed at 7-0′. Green also had one of the higher body fat percentages. I believe fat is potential in disguise, and Draymond seemed to take off when he got in better shape. The length was also pretty elite even if his height wasn’t. It’s what allows him to be so effective on defense and play Center at 6-5. Honestly, who cares if you are 6-5 if you have a standing reach of some 7 footers. That’s really what matters more for altering shots.

In our alternative history timeline, 3 teams picked between Ezeli at 30th and Draymond at 35th.

2012 NBA Draft
30GSWFestus Ezeli
31CHAJeff Taylor
32WASTomáš Satoranský
33CLEBernard James
34CLEJae Crowder
35GSWDraymond Green

Crowder was traded on Draft Night for Tyler Zeller to Dallas, so we can include them as well. What might Draymond’s career have looked like if he were drafted by Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland, or traded to Dallas. I believe these are all reasonable destinations. and realistically they could have usurped Golden State easily. How much would it have changed their destiny?

Golden State (without Draymond)

Had Golden State drafted a typical 2nd round like Quincy Acy who was drafted a couple picks after Draymond, they are still a contender I believe. They have an all time great that would have still revolutionized the three point shot as well as one of the best shooters ever as his wingman. However, the importance and commitment to Harrison Barnes would have been amplified. I think they would have still beaten a depleted Cavs team for their first championship all the same. Love and Kyrie were out. I do think they lose the next year worse to the Cavs when they were healthy and Curry was diminished by injury. They probably never get Durrant with Draymond helping to broker that and lose the following year to the Cavs. They would have been able to add something with the cap spike though of value, so it’s possible they are back in the finals for the 3rd year. I think that Cavs team would have beat them again. So Curry and Thompson likely have one ring without Draymond.

Charlotte

Charlotte has been a fairly competitive franchise most years since the 2012 draft winning mid 30 games or a late seed playoff birth. Had they pulled the trigger on Draymond, I believe he helps them make the playoffs some of the years they were winning in the mid 30’s but it’s likely chasing the 6th to 8th seed. It wouldn’t have been the most ideal place, but playing with Kemba and Al Jefferson his first few years isn’t the worst either.

Kemba was a quality PG, and he could have helped make up for some of the shortcomings beside of an offensive center like Al Jefferson. The Bobcat/Hornets would win 43 games and make the playoffs by Draymond’s 2nd year anyway but he wasn’t at the level he would have been much help then. However 2 years later they would win 48 games in 2015-16 when he had his peak season. 14ppg, 9.5rpg, 7.4apg with the warriors. It’s very likely he could have helped that Charlotte team win 50 some games and probably advance to the 2nd round or Conference finals. He was really good that season. He’s probably asked to score more in Charlotte in the early years but unlikely to have the reputation he has today had he been in Charlotte even averaging 17ppg. After that season Charlotte is likely chasing the 8th seed perpetually, and eventually they move on from him, or he moves shortly after in free agency.

Washington

Draymond getting drafted by Washington at 22 years old to pair with a 19 year old Brad Beale, and 22 year John Wall is interesting and gives them some star power. The shooting isn’t great with Wall and Green together but it was at a time you could roster a couple of non shooters more easily. Washington would win 44 games and make the 2nd round by 2014-15 when Green was a full time starter with the Warriors. They would win 46 games and make the 2nd round in 2015-16 Draymond’s best season. I think Draymond gets them by the Hawks and to the conference finals but loses to the Cavs. They likely make the playoffs, possibly even another conference finals a couple years later when they won 49 and lost to the Celtics in the 2nd round. The next few years but aren’t a big threat and eventually, it runs it’s course and he leaves via free agency or is traded.

Cleveland

Cleveland had the two picks before Golden State. They picked Bernard James, and Jae Crowder but traded Crowder to Dallas. Had they picked and kept Draymond he’s may have had the most similar legacy playing beside of Kyrie and Lebron. The problem with this hypothetical is if they had Draymond it’s unlikely they end up with the #1 pick again and get Wiggins. That’s the juice it took to get Lebron back to Cleveland, knowing they could flip it for Kevin Love. Draymond probably helps that 33 win team get closer to the playoffs even if they missed. If they still lucked into Wiggins it’s probably more likely Minesota would have asked for him for Kevin Love trade too and the Cavs would have traded him. So he’s probably in Minnesota struggling in obscurity in the scenario or backending the playoffs after a few years when Townes got there if he didndidn’tt’ help them win just enough to lose him. This would have been the both the best and worst potential scenario.

Dallas

Crowder was a good pick one spot above Draymond. This was the season after they won the title, and Dirk was till a very good player until 2016. Pairing Draymond and Dirk up in the post would have been a very interesting combination that I believe would have measured and covered each weakness. The Mavs won 49 and 50 games in 2014 and 2015 but would be 1st round exists. They would have been more of a contender with Draymond but it’s unlikely they are getting by the Spurs or the Warriors and by 2017 Dirk was on limited minutes and Draymond was more in decline himself. I don’t think they had enough to do much of anything. I don’t think Draymond last until the Luka era in Dallas either and had he, Dallas might have done just enough they do not get Luka.

Conclusion

In any of these different scenarios, I still think Draymond is a good player, especially in 2014-18. He’s probably adding a little to his scoring maybe even getting up around 15 to 17ppg those years, mostly inefficiently. He probably makes 1 All Star game maybe 2 and the 2nd round or a couple of Conference finals. I think he probably doesn’t win a defensive player of the year, the teams don’t seem built that way or good enough. Draymond likely doesn’t have the reputation he does now with the Warriors. I don’t think if he was drafted to another team he is a hall of famer. It’s more likely he is a tier or two below. He’s been very good for Golden State and it’s a partnership I believe made him a Hall of Famer too. I think he’s Joakim Noah if he’s draft anywhere else. Noah has a 0.6% hall of fame probability.

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