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.

Report: Warriors could pursue PG Calderon if bought out by Lakers

Report: Warriors could pursue PG Calderon if bought out by Lakers

While the Warriors appear to like D-League call-up Briante Weber, they could have a chance to add a veteran point guard to that final roster spot.

Weber's second 10-day contract expires after Saturday night's game against the Nets. If the Warriors chose not to sign him for the remainder of the season, they could pursue veteran point guard Jose Calderon.

Calderon, currently under contract with the Lakers, will reportedly be bought out of his deal in the next few days, according to ESPN.

If Calderon hits the open market next week, the Warriors and Rockets could be among the suitors for his services, according to the report.

The 35-year-old veteran is averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 assists in 12.2 minutes over 24 games this season for Luke Walton and the Lakers.

 

McGee expresses appreciation for support from teammates in Shaq feud

McGee expresses appreciation for support from teammates in Shaq feud

OAKLAND -- Though JaVale McGee avoided direct discussion of his feud with retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, the Warriors center expressed his appreciation for coaches and teammates coming to his defense.

“My teammates are my brothers, and (coach) Steve Kerr is also,” McGee said after shootaround Saturday morning. “It’s a great organization and I appreciate everything they do for me. That’s why I go out there and work as hard as I can when I’m on the floor. And I know everyone sees that. They see me running up and down the floor, working as hard as I can, and in the gym every day. I’m just doing my thing and trying to be a positive person.”

O’Neal’s constant ridicule of McGee reached a low point Thursday night, when the TNT analyst unveiled a video that showed various gaffes and slights to McGee’s intellect. McGee, who has held his tongue for years despite being targeted, fired back on Twitter.

Both men exchanged several insults and it reached a point Friday where by Kevin Durant and Kerr felt compelled to defend McGee.

Kerr even acknowledged that he harbored a few preconceived notions about McGee, based on O’Neal’s yearslong derision of the 7-footer. Those notions, Kerr said, turned out to be false.

McGee said he enjoys it when people take the time to engage him in conversation and come away realizing he is not a dolt, despite O’Neal frequently implying otherwise.

“I love it when people meet me,” McGee said, “and then they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re actually smart.’ It’s kind of rude, but I’ll take it.”

One of McGee’s teammates knows a thing or two about false impressions. Even after a strong collegiate career, Draymond Green had to overcome doubts that he was worthy of being in the NBA.

So it is no surprise that, to some degree, he understands how McGee feels.

“He’s standing up for himself,” Green said. “A lot has transpired over the course of the past four years with it. And he was just at a boiling point.”