Steve Kerr has spent two months insisting the Warriors can succeed without Draymond Green putting up points. That Green’s role is to conduct the offense, orchestrate the defense and generate enough energy to power the average city.
But this belief, while purposeful, sells Green short. Moreover, statistics are offering dissent.
In a Warriors season without a rumor of consistency, Green’s scoring has been one of the more accurate barometers of their results. When he scores five or fewer points, they are 4-9. When he scores 10 or more, they are 4-0.
It’s only four games, but perfection deserves deeper probing. If not outright respect.
As the Warriors wrung out a 111-107 win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Draymond delivered his typical play-making artistry, defensive wizardry and general vitality. He was fabulous, playing 36 minutes and finishing one rebound shy of a triple-double.
Green’s 12 points mattered as much as anything else he did -- and the six he scored in the final 5:02 of a pulsating fourth quarter were essential.
With the Pacers loading up to stop Steph Curry, Draymond saw openings and punished them for their neglect. He dropped in a finger roll with 5:02 remaining. A dunk with 3:50 remaining. Two free throws, with seven seconds remaining, to put Indiana to sleep.
“Tonight, we needed him to score,” Kerr said in a postgame video conference, “because we only made five 3s. Every game is a little bit different. In general, we don’t really need Draymond to score. We need him to do what he does energy-wise, defense-wise.
“But there are going to be nights like tonight, where the ball is not going in the hoop. If we get a few hoops and a few free throws from Draymond, that may put us over the top.”
For the Warriors to surpass or even reach the 40-win mark, they’ll need more of that. If teams are going to gang up on Curry -- and they will -- somebody has to make them pay. Andrew Wiggins’ defender will be reluctant to leave. Same applies to whomever is assigned to guard Kelly Oubre Jr. And Curry will be able to run rings around a big man lumbering in to help.
Who, then, is most likely to be ignored? Draymond.
He’s the guy at the top of the arc shooting 22.2 percent from deep. He’s the guy that, according to the scouting report, can be left alone. He’s going to get the same treatment as other great playmakers with remarkable court feel and passing ability but don’t do much scoring.
Rajon Rondo comes to mind. Whenever Rondo found a bucket after being deliberately left open, particularly one worth three points, and especially in big games, invigorated his teammates and deflated the opponent.
Draymond need not become the 39 percent shooter from distance that he was all those years ago, but he’s smart enough to find ways to put the ball through the hoop. Finger rolls. Dunks. Free throws earned because some poor defender made a scrambling attempt to prevent ... a finger roll or dunk.
Green’s double-technical ejection late in the game at Charlotte on Saturday likely cost the Warriors a victory. He believes it did. He also felt he owed his teammates. He was quite good Monday night against the Knicks and even better against the Pacers.
Unexpected fourth-quarter offense in a tight game always gives a team a boost. Green was primed to bring it.
“Teams are going to continue to send two guys at Steph,” he said. “It’s been that way for years.
“It’s just all a mentality for me. Just keep that mentality of attacking. I wanted to start this game that way tonight and continue to have it the whole way and it was big for us down the stretch.”
The mentality of attacking. Green is offset when he doesn’t have it. He is dangerous, even in the half court, when he does.
He had Tuesday night, and it was needed.
As the season goes on, and teams dare Draymond to score, the Warriors need him to call that bluff. He need not score big, but just enough to gain respect. That would put Golden State’s offense at another level, and might even make things easier for Curry.