Draymond Green has chance to prove Warriors can win without Kevin Durant

Draymond Green has chance to prove Warriors can win without Kevin Durant

Nine months ago, Draymond Green sat a seat away from Kevin Durant along the sidelines at Staples Center as the Warriors entered overtime against the LA Clippers with a simple message, "we don't need you. We won without you. Leave." 

In the ensuing time since the argument, Golden State lost the overtime matchup against the Clippers, a bid for a three-peat against the Raptors in six games and ultimately Durant - by way of an Achilles rupture and free-agency exit to the Brooklyn Nets. 

The Warriors responded by signing Klay Thompson to a max deal, two years after Stephen Curry signed a five year, $201 million deal. They weren't done.

Golden State's latest transaction was for Green, who agreed to a four year, $100 million extension Saturday, keeping the original core of Green, Thompson and Curry in the Bay Area until at least 2022, giving Green the chance to make true on his words in Los Angeles.

In an age defined by star player movement -- six of last year's All-NBA selections have found new homes -- the Warriors have simultaneously lost an All-Star talent while keeping together their Hall-of-Fame level core. Over a three-year stretch, the Warriors drafted Curry, Thompson and Green. As the Warriors ascended, each brushed off trade rumors and injuries to help build the Warriors into a dynasty. All the while, as Curry won a unanimous MVP and Thompson went on historic binges, Green remained the epicenter of Golden State's heart. 

It was Green - the 35th pick in the 2012 draft - who took David Lee's spot early in the 2014-15 season, helping the Warriors win 67 games. It was Green who oversaw the league's best defense for three straight seasons, earning the Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017. And it was Green -- hours after the 73-win Warriors lost in the 2016 NBA Finals to the Cavaliers in seven games -- who made a call to Durant, one that would make Golden State a dynasty.

Green's ties to the Bay Area go deeper than championships. Throughout his tenure, he's become one of the East Bay's most popular transplants. In recent years, Green - an avid domino player - has frequently been a guest at Vallejo rapper E-40's house for a game of bones. When the Warriors celebrated the 2017 title in front of millions along the shores of Lake Merritt, Green came out to Vallejo's SOBxRBE's single "Anti" when introduced. Days after Oakland's own Marshawn Lynch signed with the Raiders, Green was one of the first to celebrate with Lynch in a backyard party in North Oakland. 

“Same mentality man,” Green said. “In Saginaw, they act just like people from Oakland. It’s just that same mentality, that get-it-out-the-mud mentality. I feel like, the way I am, you know my demeanor, it’s just like them. Real recognize real.”

As Durant went through last season surrounded by uncertainty, Green -- amid reports he'd seek a maximum contract -- publically stated his intent to remain in Golden State as long as possible. 

“I’m confident that I’ll be here for a very long time," Green said during media day prior to last season. "I’m not looking at this one-sided like, ‘Oh man, I gotta do what’s right for Draymond.’ It’s a partnership and it’s a family and doing the right thing for everyone involved is important.”

"I want to be here," Green added during the Western Conference semifinals, a day after Warriors owner Joe Lacob told The Athletic he wanted Green to be "a Warrior for life." 

Following a season in which he battled injuries and weight issues, Green -- with Durant missing nine games with a strained calf - displayed why he's a pillar in the postseason, averaging 13.7 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists while simultaneously helping lead the Warriors to a fifth straight Finals appearance and repairing a relationship with his superstar teammate. 

"Me and Kevin had a great relationship," Green said in May. "We had the moment we had in November, but I don't have any close friends that I haven't gotten into it with in a major way. I've gotten into with my brother — my blood brother — in a major way. That's just what it is, but tough times build character, and that's what I've done." 

Now, as Green approaches his eighth NBA season, the Warriors no longer are the title favorites, no longer the best team and no longer the face of the league. Thompson enters the season rehabbing a torn ACL, D'Angelo Russell - one of eight new faces on the roster - must find his way on the team, while Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins and Shaun Livingston join Durant by walking out the door. 

[RELATED: Steph juiced for Draymond's Warriors contract extension]

About an hour after the Warriors lost to the Raptors in the Finals, Green called any notion that Golden State was finished "not smart." Now with Durant gone, and the Warriors doubling down on the core that built the dynasty, Green has a chance to back up his message to Durant in November, and to live up to the goal he set for his career following the Western Conference finals. 

 "When it's all said and done, I just want to be remembered as a winner. When I knot my shoe strings up and throw them on the telephone line, if they can say I was a winner, I did my job."

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

Steph Curry shares his thoughts on Allen Iverson's 'top five' comment

At NBA All-Star weekend last year, Allen Iverson told Steph Curry that he's in his "top five all day long."

Since then, Iverson repeatedly has said that the Warriors' superstar would be his point guard if he was assembling an all-time starting five.

"You know what's funny -- I have that saved on my phone," Curry told Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on the latest episode of "All the Smoke" on Showtime (the full show will air this Thursday). "It's crazy. It's crazy, right?

"I ain't never had a big head. That dude who I picked up a lot of game and inspiration from -- he's now looking at my game ...

"Some OGs, they don't want to relinquish the praise. Same way we respect the OGs, we want it both ways. So when you do hear that, that means something."

As Steph said after Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals: "Low-key, I've always wanted to be like Allen Iverson."

It must be killing the three-time NBA champion to be sidelined with the broken left hand, especially on nights like Monday in Portland when he sat on the Warriors' bench while Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard dropped 61 points in an overtime win over the Dubs.

[RELATED: What names did Charles Barkley just call Steph and Klay?]

Now is the perfect time to remind everybody that the two-time NBA MVP averaged 36.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists against the Blazers in the 2019 Western Conference Finals, all while shooting 47 percent overall and nearly 43 percent from deep.

It's safe to assume that Iverson doesn't forget about that, and neither should you.

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Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop


Why comparing Warriors' Eric Paschall to Draymond Green should stop

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The offseason comparisons between Warriors rookie Eric Paschall and star forward Draymond Green made sense. Both were highly successful four-year college basketball players from big-time programs that were taken in the second round of the NBA draft due to concerns of their overall athleticism and their inability to fit in to a traditional position.

Both players supposedly were too undersized to play the power forward position in the NBA, but also not quick or polished enough to be small forwards. Even their physiques had similar builds. So with all of that, comparing the two players before the season began was logical.

But it is not anymore.

The most important caveat is that Green is a three-time All-Star, a Defensive Player of the Year, three-time NBA champion and at one point, was widely considered a top-20 player in the league. Conversely, Paschall is a rookie who has not had a chance to accomplish an NBA resume yet.

Comparing both players seems silly already, and it is unfair to Paschall for creating expectations for that type of success. And yet if the side-by-side comparison is simply regarding how they play, Paschall and Green are completely different in their skillsets and approach to the game. 

On the defensive end, Draymond is one of the best help-side defenders in the modern NBA. He plays a "free safety" type role, using his unique ability to read the opponent's every move while also having the quickness and strength to counter them. Despite being just 6-foot-6, Green is elite at guarding big men in the NBA, while also having the unique ability to defend every position on the court.

Paschall, on the other hand, still is learning to play defense at the NBA level, and even with that, has shown to be more of a one-on-one defender so far. While he is more accustomed to guarding the power forward position, he has had impressive defensive moments defending "straight up" against wings, sliding his feet and using his strength to force them into tough shots.

It will take time for Paschall to develop from a good defender into the great one that many think he is capable of becoming. Regardless, his current projection does not have him playing the same defensive style as Green.

On offense, the contrast between the two is even greater. Green became one of the most unique offensive threats in the game as a great playmaker in transition and out of the pick-and-roll. His ability to push the ball full speed in the fast break and expose slow opposing big men helped pave the way for the Warriors' "Death Lineup" that revolutionized small-ball.

At his peak, Green was a 39 percent 3-point shooter, but scored most of his points on the break attacking the hoop. His elite passing ability helped him rack up assists, where he could spread the ball around to the greatest shooters of all-time surrounding him. 

[RELATED: Why Dubs are in power position with Burks at trade deadline]

While Paschall has shown glimpses of impressive playmaking talent, his real bread and butter so far in the NBA has been dominating opponents one-on-one. He is remarkably explosive jumping off two feet, and he is able to combine his great strength with unique finesse when finishing over defenders at the rim. His shooting is very inconsistent from deep, just like Draymond, but he still is refining a mid-range pull-up that keeps defenders honest.

For being only a few months into this NBA career, Paschall already has become a "throw the ball to him and clear out of the way" type talent on offense. While Paschall might never be the type of offensive quarterback like Green, he already is on his way to becoming a more dynamic scoring threat.

Draymond will continue to take Paschall under his wing and teach him the nuances of the game. But when all is said and done, the two Warriors will complement each other very nicely on the court with their own personal skills and differentiated abilities, rather than repetitive and possibly gratuitous similarities.