Durant, Warriors need to work on 'letting Draymond be too Draymond'

Durant, Warriors need to work on 'letting Draymond be too Draymond'

Draymond Green disagrees with most of his technical fouls, and he’s not going to change because he has to be who he has to be.

And I think we know how all this ends – with a rousing chorus of “I Fought The Law (And The Law Won).” And a knowing nod from Kevin Durant.

Green has taken a full-frontal approach to NBA officiating, allowing his emotions free and full reign when he feels slighted or wronged. An accomplished on-court thespian in only four years, he protests vociferously with face and pace when a whistle finds him, and he has noticed, as have his compatriots and employers, that it only earns him more whistles and notice. He has seven technical fouls this year and has concluded that he earned (and got his money’s worth in protest of) two.

[RELATED: Draymond analyzes his techs: 'They gonna tell me how my face can look?']

That leaves five, plus the number of calls that he has disagreed with that have not led to technical. And he claims to understand the system, and how it is being applied to him, and isn’t going to give in to the system that has made him one of the league’s pre-eminent discipline targets, along with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

“A lot of guys get home at night and they’re exhausted from acting all day. I only know how to be Draymond,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “That's who I’ve been my entire life; that's who I’m gonna continue to be. I won’t be exhausted from acting when I get home. That ain’t gonna work for me. So no, I won't change an approach with anything. No point.”

Except that there is a point, and a line to be walked that allows him to be both Draymond and a diplomat. And this is where he wanders into the woods. In the NBA, both historically and comtemporaneously, the way to become unscrewed is NOT to fight the screwings frontally, but to be more judicious in picking one’s spots, and in learning and applying which officials respond to what form of protest. It is the time-honored way of the world in the NBA, and those who have not learned it have paid a heavier-than-required price for their stubbornness.

Which leads us to Durant and his vociferous objections to the league-mandated last-two-minute reports cataloguing and disseminating calls in close games that may or may not be correct. He thinks the NBA is leaving its officials to twist in the wind, and he chose the aftermath of the Warriors’ Christmas Day loss to Cleveland to make his point.

[RELATED: NBA Referees Association: We agree with Kevin Durant]

In other words, having been freshly tripped by Richard Jefferson in the last few seconds of the game, he decided to rail against the system at its source – the league office – and the peripheral issue – ratting out the beat cops for making an honest mistake.

At best, this was a sincere act of support for men (and one woman, Lauren Holtkamp) who get little, and at worst it was a tactical schmoozing that will serve him well in those benefit-of-the-doubt moments every game has.

And no, we’re not talking about calls per se, but the dead-ball chats that players have with officials. Durant will get more of an ear than most players because he is Kevin Durant, but he also will get more because he had a chance to slag the officials and chose to uphold them instead.

This is particularly useful given that the Warriors are particularly poor at selling calls. There is no metric for it, rather an eye-of-the-beholder thing, but Durant and Shaun Livingston are the only players in the rotation who know how to draw a foul when it is needed, and conversely, players like Green, Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry aren’t nearly as skilled at it.

In short, no James Hardens or LeBron Jameses or Jamal Crawfords here, just to name three players who have mastered this very useful skill.

Anyway, Durant is going to do with honey what Green won’t be able to do with sandpaper, and his claims that nobody is smart enough to interpret his body language (or even the color of his teeth, though there is no evidence that any official has ever cited gingivitis on a game report) ignores the fact that people in position to do just such judging are going to judge anyway. One, because they can, and two, because their bosses want them to.

That’s how Green became the marked man he is – by trying to be oblivious to how his body language affects those who can affect his playing time. That’s never worked well, even with the most conscientious objectors like Rasheed Wallace, who holds the likely-untouched record for technicals in a season with 44.

Green’s right to speak is clear, but so is the official’s right to have him speak from the bench, where he is not nearly so effective.

 And the Warriors’ middling ability to find the fine line between letting Draymond be Draymond and not letting Draymond be too Draymond needs work as well.

Does this mean Durant is responsible for making Green be less Green? No. These are both grown men who have to do as they do. But when Green sees how many more calls Durant gets, and how much more respect he gets from the officials, it may occur to him that he needs to adapt to conditions if he wants to stop being That Guy, because while it may be momentarily satisfying to get into an official’s grill, there is far longer-term benefit to channeling a bit of Kevin Durant.

Austin Rivers explains how Steph Curry, Warriors transformed NBA offenses

Austin Rivers explains how Steph Curry, Warriors transformed NBA offenses

Austin Rivers knows a thing or two about defending Steph Curry.

The Houston Rockets guard isn't shy about his confidence when guarding the Warriors star, but that doesn't mean Rivers is unaware of Curry's impact on the NBA. To hear him tell it, Curry's transformed basketball as much as anyone in recent memory.

"Comparing him to other players, he's not the most athletic guy on the floor nine out of 10 times," Rivers told Warriors sideline reporter Kerith Burke and guard Quinn Cook on The Uninterrupted Road Trippin' podcast. "But nine out of 10 times, he's usually the best player on the floor, and that's changed the game. Kids used to want to dunk, and now they want to shoot 3s.

"He's changed the way basketball is played. It's a [3-point shooter's] league now."

Rivers said that impact is clearest on his own team. Under Mike D'Antoni, the Rockets lead the NBA in 3-point attempts per game (44.8) and 3-point makes (15.7). 

He thinks you can draw a straight line between D'Antoni's strategy and what Curry and the Warriors have done over the last five years. 

"The effect that Steph has singlehandedly had on the NBA has been huge -- and Golden State, period," Rivers continued. "They've set this trend where now we follow. We shoot 40-to-50 threes a game because we're trying to emulate what works, and what they've had." 

[RELATED: Quinn Cook reveals how Coach K uses Beyonce to motivate Duke players]

They've also had a trickle-down effect, according to Rivers. When he's working basketball camps, he said kids want to emulate one of two players' specific skills: Curry's, or Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving's ball-handling. 

When 6-foot-3 Curry nails a half-court shot, or 6-foot-3 Irving crosses over a helpless defender, Rivers thinks a young player would see either as more attainable than what, say, 6-foot-8, 240-pound LeBron James can on a nightly basis.

"They're not going to be doing the stuff he does, so what's realistic for a person," Rivers asked, rhetorically. " ... They're not freak athletes. They don't dunk on people. They're just skilled. So, that's every kid's dream." 

Something tells us Rivers won't be dreaming of facing either Curry or Irving in the postseason. 

You can hear the rest of Rivers, Cook and Burke's conversation on Road Trippin' in the player below, and subscribe here.

NBA Power Rankings 2019: Warriors back on top, Kings keep sliding


NBA Power Rankings 2019: Warriors back on top, Kings keep sliding

Three weeks, people. That’s all that remains of this regular season. The real battles in the Western Conference are for seeding, while in the Eastern Conference, several rats are pushing and shoving for the right to be devoured in the first round.

And way down below are dozens of players planning vacations and nine or 10 franchises tryin’ for Zion in the May 14 draft lottery.

Here are the Power Rankings through games of March 21: