Draymond Green trying to ensure Warriors' bright future as team mentor


Draymond Green trying to ensure Warriors' bright future as team mentor

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.

[RELATED: Warriors coach says team 'having more fun' with Wiggins]

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.

NBA rumors: Dragan Bender plans to sign 10-day contract with Warriors

NBA rumors: Dragan Bender plans to sign 10-day contract with Warriors

The Warriors appear to be on the verge of filling one of their open roster spots.

Dragan Bender, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, plans to sign a 10-day contract with Golden State, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday.

It's unclear when the seven-footer will put pen to paper and arrive in the Bay Area.

"I know we have a list of players who we'd like to take a look at," coach Steve Kerr told reporters Tuesday night. "We'll see how that all pans out.

"But there's a good chance that over the last couple months of the season we take a look at some different players. That's the idea."

Bender started the season with the Milwaukee Bucks, but was waived Feb. 10 after appearing in just seven games.

The 22-year-old did play in 13 G League contests with the Wisconsin Herd, averaging 20.5 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting over 38 percent from deep.

[RELATED: What Dubs can learn from Cuban's draft advice on Doncic]

His best season was in 2017-18 when he averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds over 25.2 minutes per game.

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What Warriors can learn from Mark Cuban's Luka Doncic NBA draft advice

What Warriors can learn from Mark Cuban's Luka Doncic NBA draft advice

The Warriors (12-43) have the worst record in the NBA, and most likely will end up with a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. It's possible they land the No. 1 overall selection.

At this point, nobody has any clue what Golden State is going to do. Will the Dubs trade the pick? Will they go with "best player available" or draft for positional need? 

The picture won't become clearer until at least May 19 when the NBA Draft Lottery is held, and we know exactly where the Warriors will be picking.

Certain mock drafts have Golden State taking big man James Wiseman because of the franchise's need to add a center. It sounds like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes that would be a mistake.

NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh had Cuban as a guest on the latest episode of "The Habershow" podcast, and Cuban provided the following answer when asked why Luka Doncic fell to No. 3 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft:

"Every team has to make their own choice. Also, context matters. Why was Sam Bowie drafted No. 1? Because Portland had Clyde Drexler. Luka will be the last year where there was a bias towards bigs.

"Historically, if there was a Shaquille O'Neal, a transcendental big, you always have to take him. But I think what we've learned watching the all-time greats -- in the conversation of Jordan, LeBron, Kobe -- they all had the ability to bring the ball up and are not dependent on somebody else to get them the ball.

"And in a wide open game the way it is now, that's even more important. Luka prototypes are going to be the 1s going forward. And the bigs are gonna be the running backs of the NFL."

Unfortunately for the Warriors, nobody thinks there is a "Luka prototype" in this year's crop of players. Most evaluators agree that the talent pool is weaker compared to prior years.

[RELATED: Why Dubs-LaMelo draft pairing could be mutually beneficial]

But Cuban definitely is correct in that wings and guards have greater value in today's NBA. Big men, while still important, are considered more interchangeable. Yet still, his perspective doesn't automatically translate to every draft, as context matters.

No matter what the Warriors end up doing in the upcoming draft, we probably aren't going to know for a year or two (or even longer) whether it was the "right" move or not.

Fans simply have to trust the front office's decision-making and vision.

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