As the man who isolates himself with Draymond Green during post-practice sessions, Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown has gotten to know Green and appreciate his defense.
As someone who spent most of last season working with and observing the Spurs, Brown also got an up-close and personal look at San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard, the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
In short, Brown one of the few coaches to work closely with both defensive aces and, therefore, is in a unique position compare and contrast.
“The first thing is their versatility,” Brown said this week on the NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Podcast. “Both guys have a lot of versatility on the defensive end of the floor.
“I don’t think Kawhi has the ability to guard positions 1 through 5 as good as Draymond. Draymond is better guarding the bigger, post players than Kawhi. But when you’re talking about defending positions 1 through 4, probably, they’re very similar. They’re both very strong. Both have long arms.”
Green and Leonard, Brown pointed out, are among the very few players capable and comfortable grabbing a rebound and immediately dribbling as the point man in transition.
“Where Draymond may have the edge is he can guard centers consistently, and for long minutes,” Brown said. “I’m not quite sure if Kawhi can do that on a night-in, night-out basis.”
The biggest difference, according to Brown, is Leonard spends more time as a one-on-one defender on guards and wings. He excels in taking away a single player.
Green excels at taking away spaces all over the floor.
“Kawhi can hone in, or lock in, on specific guys,” Brown said. “And what you’re getting from Draymond can change from possession to possession, not only what he’s going to bring to the table for you with your defense as a whole but in guarding different guys.
“Draymond doesn’t have to go into a game knowing he’s going to lock in on this specific guy. We can move him. Or he can even move himself from guy to guy to guy on different individual possessions.”
For the record, Brown, considered by most to be a defensive-minded coach, believes Green should be the Defensive Player of the Year.