Warriors

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.

How Warriors fans can watch game this season with Larry O'Brien Trophy

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USATSI

How Warriors fans can watch game this season with Larry O'Brien Trophy

Once the NBA season starts, every player is out for the same thing -- a chance to raise the Larry O'Brien Trophy at the end of the year.

During the 2017-18 season, Warriors fans can watch a game at Oracle Arena with the prize possession right by their side. All you need is $2,000. 

If you can write the check, the trophy will pay you a visit in a premium suite, plus two bottle of champagne and a gift bag that includes a six-inch replica trophy and a replica championship ring. 

Fans are limited to four experiences with the trophy per game. 

Darren Rovell of ESPN was first to share the details. 

Damian Lillard: 'I'm not joining nobody' like Kevin Durant did, unless...

Damian Lillard: 'I'm not joining nobody' like Kevin Durant did, unless...

Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Chris Paul. Paul George. LaMarcus Aldridge. Kyrie Irving. Gordon Hayward.

Those just some of the superstars to change teams in the last few years in pursuit of a championship.

But don't expect Damian Lillard to add his name to that list.

While speaking on the latest episode of Complex's Everyday Struggle, the Blazers point guard was asked about the possibility of joining up with other stars to try to win a title.

"I mean, like I said about [former Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge], I wouldn't have done it. For me, I'm not joining nobody," Lillard said.

When it was brought up that he'd join LeBron if given the chance, Lillard responded by saying this: "I'm not joining nobody. I would not win a championship before I go and team up and do all that. Unless it was something I couldn't control."

A hypothetical scenario was posed to Lillard: Let's say you're 34 years old (Lillard is currently 27 years old) and you had the chance to join two of your superstar friends on another team. You still wouldn't do it?

"I’m saying this because this is how I feel, not how I feel at the moment. That’s just how I feel about it. I think if that’s what somebody wants to do, I’m not mad at them for doing it. I’m just telling you what I’m not going to do. That ain’t how we get down," Lillard responded.

To wrap up the topic, Lillard was asked if he holds it against any player that does decide to team up with other superstars.

"Nah, if it make them feel good, if they comfortable doing it, then do you," Lillard said.