Green proving mettle with energy, defense

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Green proving mettle with energy, defense

The highest compliment Warriors rookie Draymond Green has been paid this season – and he has collected quite a few – came from Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, who asked Green to meet him at the Pacers’ team bus after the game.

What prompted the invitation? “I told him he was soft,” Green said.

Hansbrough, of course, doesn’t hear that very often, having one of the most bruising playing styles in the entire NBA. But during the Warriors’ 103-92 win over the Pacers last Saturday, Hansbrough apparently complained that Green was illegally grabbing him.

The complaints, as well as the challenge to settle their differences by the bus, indicate that Green got under the skin, and into the head, of one of the league’s more accomplished agitators. Green, in effect, Hansbroughed Hansbrough.

Pacers point guard George Hill saw some of himself in Green as well. “I noticed him because he made an impact,” Hill said. “He made what we call the scrum plays – get the loose balls, rebound, make stops, bring energy. As a rookie in San Antonio, that was my job.”

Those are heady comparisons for a second-round pick, 35th overall, who is 11th on the team in scoring (2.4) and eighth in rebounding (2.9). Green probably wouldn’t even be playing right now if small forward Brandon Rush hadn’t sustained a season-ending knee injury and his back-up Richard Jefferson had hurt his calf. But those two losses forced Green into the rotation and he has steadily gained coach Mark Jackson’s trust, culminating in the decision to start Green for the second half Saturday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Green responded in his season-high 28 minutes with a season-high 10 rebounds and a season-high three assists to go with six points.

“He’s not particularly athletic,” said one Eastern Conference GM. “He’s just a winner. He has great competitive spirit and he knows how to play the game.”

Green, despite being listed as a 6-foot-7, 230-pound small forward, has been utilized by coach Mark Jackson as a defensive stopper on everyone from Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love to the Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson.

He credits his college coach, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, for developing his defensive versatility. “I was the voice of the defense,” Green said, “so I had to know where everybody had to be and what they had to do.”

Despite raising his scoring average every one of his four years with the Spartans – from 3.3 as a freshman to 16.2 as a senior – he knew that his dream of playing in the NBA would only be realized if he could impact the game at the other end.

“Guys don’t stick at this level if they can’t defend unless they can really stick it in the hole,” he said. “My role is to bring some defense and energy. Scoring is not my role.”

As for Hansbrough’s invitation, Green smiled at it and told Hansbrough, “I would, but I can’t afford the fine.”

Proving that Green is willing to take any challenge – but smart enough to know when it’s not necessary.

Kerr's message to Warriors fans who want more pick-and-roll for Curry

Kerr's message to Warriors fans who want more pick-and-roll for Curry

Are you one of the people who thinks the Warriors need to put Steph Curry in more pick-and-roll/ball screen situations? 

If you are, that's OK.

Steve Kerr -- when asked about Draymond Green's role this past season -- talked about how Golden State uses Curry.

"Before the season started, I told our staff that I thought Draymond was gonna have the biggest adjustment to make," Kerr said on the TK Show on Wednesday. "And he made it really easily. And I think a big part of that is the fact that he's a point-forward at his core offensively.

"He handles the ball and he's our leading assist guy. And all of a sudden he had another shooter and another weapon to work with. And I thought that was really important that we established early that Draymond was still gonna be an integral part of the offense.

"I was worried about that -- I thought because KD was gonna need the ball and Steph already had the ball -- I was worried that Draymond would be a little left out of the offense and that would affect his overall game and his defense.

"In fact, it's one of the things -- I think important for our fans to understand -- because one of the things I get all the time is, 'Why don't you just put Steph in a screen-and-roll every play? Why don't you give him the ball every play?' And I think what people who follow our team closely understand is that the number of playmakers we have on our team is what makes us who we are ... drive and kick and passing and moving -- it keeps everybody engaged."

For the third year in a row, the Warriors ranked nearly the bottom of the league in pick-and-rolls.

Yet, that didn't stop Golden State from posting the best offensive rating (113.2) in NBA history.

It's also important to remember that following the Warriors' loss to the Cavs on Christmas Day -- when Curry scored 15 points and took just 11 shots -- Kerr acknowledged that he needs to put Curry in a better position to succeed.

[REWIND: Steph Curry 'definitely' wants Warriors to run more pick-and-roll]

"But for the people who say, 'Just give it to Steph every time and let him go,' well now you're alienating Draymond, you're alienating Andre, you're alienating Shaun. You're basically telling them to be spotup 3-point shooters," Kerr continued. "And now I think you're losing a lot emotionally from what makes the team tick, and you're taking away the energy that Draymond gets from being a playmaker and getting 8 or 10 assists.

"So that's the balance we always try to find with our group -- get everybody involved and energized."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Reports: Spurs shopping LaMarcus Aldridge

Reports: Spurs shopping LaMarcus Aldridge

It appears the LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio could be nearing its end.

The Spurs are reportedly talking to several teams about a potential trade, according to multiple reports.

In the summer of 2015, Aldridge signed a 4-year deal worth over $84 million.

He can opt out of his deal next summer.

The 5-time All-Star will turn 32 years old in July.

His 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season were his lowest totals since his rookie campaign.

In Games 2 through 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot less than 39 percent from the field.

Aldridge's former team -- the Portland Trail Blazers -- would be interested in acquiring Aldridge, according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller