A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

What is Draymond Green’s real value?

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Where Draymond Green ranks in a vacuum is divisive to some. Sports Illustrated rated him 16th in the league. Some argue Golden State is perfect for his strengths and hides his weaknesses. He anchors their defense, passes the ball and shoots open 3s and isn’t relied upon to create his own shot. What happens on a team where his 3s aren’t open and he is asked to create more offense?

But is this unique to his style of play? Consider how Kevin Love’s value shifted going from Minnesota to Cleveland. On a team with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving he didn’t have enough shots to take advantage of his volume scoring ability. His defensive weaknesses proved a bigger problem than in Minnesota.

If anything I’d have thought defense and floor spacing should be more stable team to team than scoring. For scoring the availability of field goals will change team to team. On different teams efficiency may be affected by less open looks. In Dallas Brandan Wright had .762 TS% but in Boston and Phoenix .571 TS% and .600 TS%. Dallas specialized in creating space for his and Tyson Chandler’s dunks.

Floor stretching shouldn’t be affected by team. The player’s range and respect the defense gives them shouldn’t change much by teammates. Defensive results may change because of burning energy to take a greater offensive role. The system may also help defensive results. But on the whole defensive tools, intelligence and effort reign supreme.

The argument against Draymond isn’t his spacing and defense declining. It’s his offensive production going from average to unacceptable on the wrong team. His average shooting percentage may become poor if guarded too strong. But would his points per game go up? Would his already impressive 3.7 assists per game go up? Is a Draymond who scores 15 points per game and 5 assists with poor efficiency, less of an asset when added to his defense and spacing?

Furthermore not every bad team needs a scorer. Many have scorers but not the spacing and defense Green provides. Here’s a list of leading scorers on the 14 lottery teams. In brackets are players who led in total points but not points per game:

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Martin: 20.0ppg (Andrew Wiggins: 16.9ppg)

New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony: 24.2ppg

Philadelphia 76ers: Tony Wroten: 16.9ppg (Robert Covington: 13.5ppg)

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant: 22.3ppg (Jordan Hill: 12.0ppg)

Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic: 19.3ppg,

Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins: 24.1ppg (Rudy Gay: 21.1ppg)

Denver Nuggets: Ty Lawson: 15.2ppg

Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson: 17.6ppg (Andre Drummond: 13.8ppg)

Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker: 17.3ppg (Al Jefferson: 16.6ppg)

Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade: 21.5ppg

Indiana Pacers: George Hill: 16.1ppg (C.J. Miles: 13.5ppg)

Utah Jazz: Gordon Hayward: 19.3ppg

Phoenix Suns: Eric Bledsoe: 17.0ppg.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook: 28.1ppg

In several situations he wouldn’t be more than a 3rd or 4th option including playing with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris or Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. They need a Draymond Green’s defense and spacing more than volume scoring.

Minnesota ranked last in defense and had minimal floor spacing. Green fills these ailments while keeping the ball in Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins’ hands. Green is the Andre Drummond compliment Greg Monroe never was in Detroit. In Charlotte his strengths help cancel out Al Jefferson’s spacing, defending weaknesses. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist he pushes the Hornets from top 10 defense to likely elite.

Philadelphia is a “if Draymond had to do too much” team. While true his spacing is needed and the defensive pairing with Nerlens Noel has elite upside. Indiana without Paul George, Los Angeles without Kobe Bryant and New York without Carmelo Anthony also may find him forced out of his element. Like Charlotte he could have made Indiana elite defensively again beside Hibbert and New York and Los Angeles needed his defense.

Draymond may not be as valuable to last year’s Philadelphia, Indiana, New York or Los Angeles as he is a Sacramento or Miami. That’s ok because it’s the same for offense-first stars like Kevin Love. Love provides great value to a Philadelphia or Indiana but on Sacramento or Miami his volume scoring  is more redundant than Green’s defense. To be fair to Love his floor spacing should provide value to any team including Cleveland’s.

If Green’s value isn’t the same on every team it’s likely a matter of being better at one end than the other. Teams set with offensive talent but not defense need a Green more than a Kevin Love. Teams set with defensive talent but not offense need a Love more than Green.

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Written by jr.

September 2, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Posted in Basketball

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