Coach's dream Green understands role, embraces it

Coach's dream Green understands role, embraces it
March 17, 2014, 9:15 pm
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Because of his size, his athleticism, his strength, he can guard one through five ... That doesn't mean he's going to get stops all the time. But we trust him.
Mark Jackson on Draymond Green

Programming note: Coverage of Magic-Warriors begins Tuesday night at 7:00 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live.

OAKLAND – You don't always see his work because it's too subtle, or because it occurs in the background or because it's practically invisible.

And you can't really appreciate what you don't see.

But game after game in the NBA, there is a game within the game. And few play it better than Warriors forward Draymond Green.

He eagerly defends all five positions, point guard to center. His energy is relentless, his effort is admirable, his hoops IQ miles above the mean. Green is a coach's dream, a teammate's savior and quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Which is why Warriors coach Mark Jackson didn't flinch in giving Green one of the loftiest possible compliments, comparing his guy to Miami superstar LeBron James.

"Because of his size, his athleticism, his strength, he can guard one through five," Jackson said after practice Monday. "Those two guys have the size and strength and knowledge and the competitive spirit to do that.

"That doesn't mean he's going to get stops all the time. But we trust him.''

Jackson's trust in Green paid off spectacularly in Sunday's 113-112 win at Portland. Starting forward David Lee had difficultly rotating on defense, allowing the Trail Blazers to find easy baskets. Jackson turned to Green. Problem solved.

"We were struggling," Green said. "So one thing I wanted to do was bring energy to the floor. We weren't really having a problem scoring. We were having a problem getting stops."

Green's defensive assignment varied according to personnel, but he might harass Portland point guard Damian Lillard on one possession, power forward Dorell Wright on the next and center Robin Lopez on the next.

Just as Andrew Bogut is the primary reason the Warriors play such solid defense in the paint, Green is a huge factor in why they are able to get out and contest jump shots better than any team in the NBA.

Yet the glory goes to the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and their picturesque shots. While most observers were watching the scoreboard Sunday – Curry and Thompson combining for 64 points, 51 in the second half – Green was setting a defensive tone that resulted in Portland shooting 30 percent in the fourth quarter.

"We understand how we win ballgames and it's the little things," Jackson said. "We also understand that we're in a highlight era, where you're going to look at the sweet stroke of a jump shot hitting nothing but net.

"But it's the little things that make those plays possible and put you in position to win ballgames. And it won't go unnoticed by us."

Green understands his role and embraces it, perhaps because he realizes it's required for success. So he celebrates a well-set screen as he does a crucial shot, admires a well-placed pass as much as he does a soaring dunk, appreciates the blocked shot as much as the made shot.

"You have to understand what won you the ballgame," he said.

More often than not, it's related to something Draymond Green did. Or to something he disallowed his opponent to do. Or even to something one of his teammate was able to do because it was made easier by Green.

The Warriors' win on Sunday was not reflected in Green's statistics: five points, eight rebounds (a team high), two steals and two assists. He fouled out in 24 minutes.

But he was a driving force, absolutely necessary to the Warriors overcoming an 18-point deficit.

So accept the occasional 3-pointer that Green fires up, whether it drops in or not. And appreciate his effect on the scoreboard, even if the numbers don't always find their way into his personal column.