OAKLAND – David Lee's early departure from the playoffs last season left the Warriors facing several problems, most of which were solved by rookie forward Harrison Barnes.
Now that Lee is on the sideline again, perhaps for the final five games of the regular season, those problems are back – and Barnes has not been able to solve them.
The Answer Man has instead been Draymond Green, the 6-foot-7 second-year forward from Michigan State.
He's a one-man socket wrench set, capable of providing whatever the Warriors need at a given time, even if it's something different on each occasion.
"He's been spectacular," coach Mark Jackson said. "No matter what situation we put him in, he's stays ready, competes at a high level and is a winner."
Need a defensive stop? Ask Draymond.
Need a sly, timely screen? Call Draymond.
Need a rebound or a steal? There's Draymond, plucking it off the glass or yanking away the ball or swiping it from the passing lane to trigger a Warriors fast break.
And it has become evident that Green, who actually enjoys defending, excels in the role of sidekick to 7-foot defense-first center Andrew Bogut. They are to the Warriors' defense what Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are to that of the 49ers.
"Both of us take the defensive end very (seriously)," Green said. "And we're two guys who are not afraid to hear our voice on the defensive end."
It would be easy to identify Green as a defensive specialist. It also would be lazy and dismissive.
There are times when Green makes the swing pass – the unheralded 'hockey pass' – or pours in the 3-pointer. If Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson hits a trey, it stings opponents, as it does if it's off the fingertips of Andre Iguodala or Jordan Crawford or Steve Blake.
When Green hits one from beyond the arc, there is a psychological explosion that simultaneously demoralizes the opponent and energizes the Warriors.
"I try to take advantage of who (I'm) on the floor with," Green said. "Steph and Klay can make me look a lot better."
Though Lee is an effective offensive player, particularly in Jackson's beloved pick-and-roll, Green is versatile and nuanced, doing little things that endear him to coaches and teammates.
"Draymond is not a post-up guy on the block like D-Lee is," Iguodala said, "but he can find another way to impact ad produce for us on the offensive end. He's spreading the lane He's setting stuff up with screens. He's diving hard. He's occupying a space in order for Klay to come off and be able to shoot.
"He's a smart basketball player, he's winner from a tradition of winning with Michigan State and his high school (Saginaw High). He just knows how to play basketball."
Green, 24, is one of those players the casual fan hardly notices. He's highly unlikely to be voted to an All-Star Game. He's not absurdly athletic, not nearly the athlete Barnes is. Green is not a prolific scorer, nowhere close to the production of Lee. On sheer talent, Green is not going to wow anyone.
But he's that ultra-selfless player every team needs to contend. His innate feel for the game and his presence on the floor and in the locker room simply make the Warriors better.