Warriors focus: Draymond Green


Warriors focus: Draymond Green

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fifth installment in a seven-part series that spotlights the seven new Warriors.
Part 1: Harrison BarnesPart 2: Kent Bazemore
Part 3: Andrew Bogut
Part 4: Festus Ezeli

The Warriors have made plenty of changes since the end of the 2011-12 season. They will likely have four first-year players on their roster come the start of the season, and they also acquired veterans Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry.Center Andrew Bogut came to the Warriors in March, but hes a newcomer, too, if you factor in that he still hasnt played a game for the team yet. With training camp set to begin in early October, lets begin our player-by-player analysis of the Warriors new players.Draymond Green, 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, small forwardpower forward.If theres one thing you continue to hear about forward Draymond Green its that hes smart and knows how to play. Yes, he fits the description of the classic tweener, but the Warriors certainly believe hell figure out a way to find a niche in the NBA.Make no mistake, if Green is playing power forward, hell be an undersized four. And if he finds himself playing small forward, well, then, hes going to be challenged athletically and in the quickness department.
But what Green does have is length, and that will give him the opportunity to combat some of the deficiencies hes likely to face navigating those two positions.Green anticipates well, he can pass and he fully understands how to play team defense the result of having played under Tom Izzo at Michigan State for four seasons. Those are the kinds of little things that make it possible for Green to get playing time -- though a close look at the Warriors roster indicates it wont be easy.For every positive, there seems to be a negative when it comes to Green, but you would expect as much from a player drafted in the second round. Hes not an elite athlete, doesnt have what you would call a great body, and isnt yet a consistent shooter.Still, the Warriors clearly believe the positives outweigh the negatives and theyre hoping that down the road Green turns into a contributor. How do we know the Warriors believe that?Well, because the Warriors gave Green a guaranteed contract for two seasons and a partial guarantee for Year No. 3. That doesnt happen to every second-round selection, thats for sure.Green is an OK mid-range shooter, and he seems to have the ability to be a 3-point threat down the road. More important, he plays with consistent energy right now, and he has shown a knack for rebounding the ball.Its nothing short of impressive that Green left Michigan State as the schools all-time leading rebounder, and averaged 10.6 rebounds his senior season for the Spartans.He might not be able to duplicate those numbers at the NBA level, but by the same token those kinds of numbers indicate that Green has very good anticipation, a nose for the ball and some good hands, too.One look at the lay of the land, though, and its tough to see Green getting minutes. Hes No. 3 on the depth chart at power forward behind David Lee and Carl Landry, so theres little to no playing time there.And its not like there are an abundance of minutes at small forward not with rookie Harrison Barnes, re-signed Brandon Rush and veteran Richard Jefferson all in the mix there.Then again, were still talking about a player who was drafted in the second round and doesnt have a definitive position. So, its less about whether Green is going to get playing time and more a question of whether he can play in the league.

In first game without Durant, Westbrook's monster night lifts OKC to win

In first game without Durant, Westbrook's monster night lifts OKC to win


PHILADELPHIA -- Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 12 rebounds and took over late to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 103-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Westbrook scored the decisive points on opening night for the Thunder in their first game since franchise star Kevin Durantleft in free agency and signed with the Golden State Warriors.

Joel Embiid scored 20 points in 22 minutes in his first game for the Sixers since they made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Embiid had sat out the last two seasons with foot injuries. He received a roaring ovation when he was introduced and fans went wild on every shot.

The 76ers had a tripleheader of image faux pas on opening night: The scheduled anthem singer says she was booted because she wanted to wear a "We Matter" jersey; a fan was kicked out for extending two middle fingers at Westbrook; and halftime singer Desiigner was booed off the court for a shirtless performance where he dropped his pants to his ankles.

Westbrook and Embiid swapped jumpers that tied the game 97-all. Westbrook sank two free throws with 35 seconds left for a 99-97 lead in front of a raucous crowd. Enes Kanter silenced them for good and sent them toward the exits with a putback layup after the Sixers missed a shot on the other end.

Yes, it was another loss for the Sixers, but one that came with a 7-foot-2 asterisk.

Embiid's performance largely stole the show from the opening-night shenanigans that otherwise tarnished the night.

Sixers fans who had been waiting to cheer for Embiid for more than two years went wild every time he touched the ball. A group of fans held a sign that read, "In Embiid We Trust."

The Sixers just might prove they made the right decision to trust in Embiid.

The crowd of nearly 20,000 fans erupted when the "7-foot-2 center from Kansas, Joooooel, Embiiiiid" was introduced during game introductions. They stood and gasped when Embiid attempted his first shot of the game - a missed 3-pointer.

He grabbed a defensive rebound, pushed the ball up the floor and it helped lead to an alley-oop to fellow newcomer Gerald Henderson. He had a nifty spin in the post and a bucket for a quick 10-2 lead.

The Sixers, yes, the 10-72 Sixers, at last had a dose of good news.

Coach Brett Brown said he would limit Embiid to four, 5-minute spurts and the center spent at least one game break in the locker room on an exercise bike to stay loose.

Embiid starred on a nationally televised performance and gave a teasing glimpse that he just may be the franchise cornerstone player that can help shift the franchise toward respectability.

Westbrook, now The Man in OKC, refused to cede the spotlight entirely to Embiid. He scored 12 points in the first quarter and 22 through three to keep the Thunder within striking distance entering the fourth.

He closed the game with the jumper and free throws and showed life without Durant might not be so bad for the Thunder.


Thunder: Coach Billy Donovan said the Thunder will win without Durant, just "do it in a different way." "It will be a constant process throughout the season to get everyone to understand." ... Donovan said Westbrook can't try and play as a one-man show or else "it's just going to wear him out."

76ers: Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard rang the ceremonial opening bell. ... UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was at the game. ... Fans chanted "Trust The Process" when Embiid was at the free-throw line. The catchphrase became a rallying cry under former team president Sam Hinkie.


Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter says she was told by the team she could not perform because of her "We Matter" jersey. Streeter wrote on Twitter, "Was suppose to sing the anthem at (at)sixers & (at)okcthunder game but mins b4 (at)sixers said I couldn't because I was wearing a "We Matter" jersey.


The Sixers ejected a portly fan in an Allen Iverson jersey who directed both middle fingers toward Westbrook from his courtside seat. The fan raised his arms in triumph and high-fived fans as he was escorted out of the arena.


Rapper Desiigner was booed off the court for a halftime performance where he ripped off his shirt and left with his jeans down to his ankles and his boxers exposed.


No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons says there is no timetable for his return to the Sixers from a broken bone in his right foot. He said he has not discussed the possibility of sitting out the season.

"I'll come back when I'm ready," Simmons said.


Thunder: Host Phoenix on Friday in their home opener.

76ers: Host Atlanta on Saturday. They open with three straight and five of their first six at home.

Ahead of facing Warriors, Pelicans' Davis drops 50 in loss to Nuggets

Ahead of facing Warriors, Pelicans' Davis drops 50 in loss to Nuggets


NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points.

Denver built its largest lead when Barton hit a 3 and a layup to spark a 9-2 run that made 60-46 in the final minute of the second quarter.

The Nuggets still led by 10, at 87-77, when Kenneth Faried's hook shot from 5 feet opened scoring in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans managed to keep its deficit within single digits for most of the final period, pulling as close as 98-84 on Frazier's driving layup. A few possessions later, Davis cut into the lane for a layup that pulled the Pelicans to 100-98 with 2:32 to go and brought the crowd to its feet.

Denver, which had shot 46.9 percent (30 of 64) through three quarters, made just seven of 19 field goals in the fourth quarter as New Orleans turned up its defensive intensity. But the Nuggets played solid defense of their own, forcing a pair of missed shots and a Davis turnover in the final half-minute.

Denver also made seven of eight free throws in the final 1:39.

Nuggets: Rookie guard Jamal Murray, who was taken seventh overall in last summer's draft - one spot behind Hield - played 13 minutes and was 0 of 2 shooting, finishing with a point on a free throw. "For me, tonight's focus isn't Jamal Murray's debut. That's the least of my worries," Denver coach Mike Malone said. "My worry is trying to get a damn win." ... Between Gallinari, Nikola Jokic and the 7-foot- Nurkic, Denver opened the game with three players 6-10 or taller on the floor at a time when a number of teams are favoring smaller lineups to in order to feature the quicker, more versatile players on their rosters. "Obviously the trend is going away from what we do, but we're not worried about what the trends are," Malone said. "We're going to do what we think is best for us, but within our game you'll see a lot of different lineups. ... We feel like we have guys like Kenneth FariedWilson Chandler off the bench who can play meaningful minutes as well if we decide to go small."

Pelicans: Before the game, the Pelicans wore black T-shirts during warm-ups honoring Bryce Dejean-Jones, who was fatally shot last May when he forced his way into an apartment that he had mistaken for that of his girlfriend. The shirts had the letters "BDJ" on the chest with Dejean-Jones' No. 31 underneath. "It's unfortunate what happened the fact that he's not with us any longer, but he was part of our family and we just wanted to do something to pay tribute to him," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. The team also held a moment of silence in Dejean-Jones' memory before tip-off. ... Davis had 28 of his points on 11 of 22 shooting in the first half, when the rest of the Pelicans were 9 of 31 collectively (29 percent). ... Hield missed the first three shots of his NBA career before scoring his first points on a driving layup. He finished with four points on 2 of 8 shooting.

Nuggets: Host Portland on Saturday night.

Pelicans: Host Golden State on Friday night.