Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Klay Thompson were the only five members of the Warriors to be with the team throughout Golden State's run to five straight NBA Finals. Clearly, the resulting fatigue has had a cumulative effect.
Curry appeared in four games this season before breaking his hand. Zero for Thompson. Livingston is retired, and Iguodala might as well have been prior to being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Miami Heat last week. Meanwhile, Green has played in 41 of the Dubs' 55 games this season, frequently representing the last active remnant of the old guard.
It hasn't been easy on the former Defensive Player of the Year.
"[Green] leads the league in technicals for a reason,” coach Steve Kerr told Heavy.com's Sean Deveney. "He’s frustrated just like we all are. Losing stinks."
Green is averaging more than one technical every four games so far in the kind of season he never has experienced before -- at any level of basketball. The Warriors head into the All-Star break at 12-43, the worst record in the league. Throughout his entire NBA career, Green never has missed the playoffs and never has been part of a team that lost more than 35 games. Over four years at Michigan State, his Spartans lost a combined total of 39 games. His final two years in high school, he led Saginaw High to a combined 52-2 record and two straight state championships.
So, yeah, this is uncharted territory for Green, to say the least.
With the Warriors bound for the lottery -- and possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- Green has been asked to do something beyond serving as the heartbeat of the team and filling the box score when he is on the court.
"Draymond is there for us every night,” Kerr said. “I try to get him rest when I can give it to him. In the meantime, we need him to be a mentor and a role model for these young guys and he’s doing a great job of it."
As Deveney pointed out, in all but one of the games Green has been in the starting lineup for this season, he has started alongside at least one player who was either 22 years old or a rookie. That's a whole heck of a lot of tutoring to do. As he has grown more accustomed to the role, Green has discovered he has to be more patient with his younger teammates than he often is with the officials.
"You’ve got to lead the young guys," Green said. “That’s the role I’m in right now, it’s my responsibility, make sure I can do that. It’s moreso just understanding the circumstances and not being overly aggressive, like just trying to be more understanding."
Golden State's hope is that this season is a blip on the radar, and the valuable experience the Warriors' younger players have gained will serve the team well when it returns with a reinforced roster next year. With the recent trade for Andrew Wiggins, combined with the lottery picks the Dubs can expect over the next two drafts and the increased flexibility under the salary cap, there is the potential for a quick and major turnaround in Golden State.
While Green is excited by the possibilities, he isn't looking too far ahead, knowing there's still important work to be done this season.
"I think we can be good," he said. "But I don’t spend every day thinking about how good we could be or will be next year."
That's probably a good thing for the Warriors. Rather than thinking about how good they can be down the line, Green currently is focused on ensuring that they will be.