How Draymond Green went from injuring Marquese Chriss to mentoring him

How Draymond Green went from injuring Marquese Chriss to mentoring him

For much of Marquese Chriss' tenure with the Warriors, Draymond Green has been a mentor for the 22-year-old. 

From defending the young forward's maturity to giving frequent advice, Green has been an integral part in helping Chriss revitalize his career with the Warriors. But on the eve of training camp, Chriss entered his sixth season with mixed feelings towards Green. During Chriss' rookie season in Phoenix, Green accidentally kicked Chriss' hand, leaving the big man with a dislocated finger. 

"It was surreal for me because, honestly," Chriss said on the Runnin' Plays Podcast. "I didn't know whether he liked me or not."

The incident happened nearly four years ago, in a 138-109 Warriors win during the 2016-17 season, when Green tried to draw contact while attempting a 3-pointer and kicked Chriss in the process. 

"He went up for a three and he was trying to draw a foul, and I backed up," Chriss said. "And he tried to shoot it in his leg swung up and I put my hands behind my back and tried to move my hands out of the way, and his foot caught my pinkie, and it just dislocated my pinkie to the side." 

Despite the injury, Chriss didn't miss any time. But the episode did little to erase Green's fledgling reputation around the league. Months prior, he'd received a flagrant foul for kicking Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams in the midsection during the 2016 Western Conference finals.

Two days before kicking Chriss, Green earned another flagrant foul for kicking Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the head in a 132-127 loss. Worse, Green's actions towards Chriss caused the ire of Chriss' mother, Shawntae.

"My mom was mad," Chriss said. "My mom holds grudge... She was mad."

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History aside, Green was one of Chriss' biggest allies during training camp. As Chriss -- who signed a non-guaranteed deal in September-- tried to make the roster, Green gave Chriss sound advice upon arrival. 

"This is your opportunity to f--k up," the veteran forward said. "You're going to have an opportunity to show yourself. Take advantage of it."

Chriss responded, averaging 9.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game during the preseason. His play earned him Golden State's final roster spot. Along the way, Chriss discovered Green's unique leadership style. Growing up in Saginaw, Mich., Green frequently saw his style cause friction with those around him. 

"I took it so seriously," Green said last December. "I didn't have a bunch of friends. Even in the NBA, I don't have a ton of friends. It's different for me. If you don't got what I got as far as passion goes, as far as the hate for losing that I have, you would never understand it." 

"If you're passionate about this s--t, like I'm passionate about this s--t, we don't bump heads. That's just what it is. If you're not as passionate about this as I am, if you're not as passionate about winning as I am, we're going to bump heads and that's just a fact."

Green's brash style has pushed teammates the wrong way, including Kevin Durant, who credited a sideline spat with Green as one of the reasons he left the Warriors in free agency last summer. But Chriss says he appreciated the approach.  

"I think if he talks mess to you, that's how you can tell he likes you. And I think other people will agree with that. I think if he talks mess to you, he has a sense of relationship with you." 

Green's leadership was needed last season, considering Golden State's unusual position. With Durant gone to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson and Steph Curry missing significant time, Green was one of the lone holdovers from Golden State's dynastic run. Nonetheless, Chriss said Green was a positive influence. 

"He was like a big brother I think for everybody. He was just like a player-coach. And Steph was there as much as possible, and so was Klay. But I think with Draymond being on the floor it's a different presence," he said. "I went to him as much as possible. Sometimes I felt like I was talking too much, and he tells me I talk too much sometimes. It is what it is. It's different. I've never been around somebody who's so passionate but at the same time so charismatic." 

Perhaps Green's biggest contribution to Chriss' performance came in the preseason, when the forward defended Chriss' early career-struggles with maturity in Phoenix. 

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green told reporters following a 126-93 preseason loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these s--tty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault."

“He’s getting older now, so he’s not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid. But it’s never the organization’s fault. It’s always that guy.”

[RELATED: Exclusive -- Myers, Warriors to "consider" trading top pick]

Chriss' mom got wind of Green's comments first, later relaying the message to her son. Soon after, Shawntae had a request for Green following a Warriors home game.  

"I asked Draymond if my mom could take a picture one time when we were leaving the gym," Chriss said. "She was like, 'yeah, he's one of my favorites now.' I was like, Draymond, 'can Mom get a picture?' and he came back and took a picture."

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

NBA rumors: Warriors privately 'cool' on playing when season returns

To play or not to play?

That is the question facing the Warriors as the NBA nears a decision on how many teams will participate when the league resumes the 2019-20 season.

While coach Steve Kerr said the team is operating as if the season is over, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that owner Joe Lacob told his fellow owners that the team was "willing" to play if all 30 NBA teams were asked to play.

But ... Wojnarowski also reported, citing sources, that the Warriors have been "far more cool to the idea in private."

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Based on Wojnawowski's reporting from Friday, the NBA Board of Governors are expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver's proposal for a 22-team restart plan later this week, meaning the Warriors -- who hold the worst record in the league -- would not be asked to play any more games this season.

The Warriors don't have anything left to play for this season. They are the only team that has been officially eliminated from playoff contention. Does it make sense for the players to go through several weeks of training camp to play a handful of meaningless games?

"It's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again,' " Warriors star Steph Curry told former teammate Anthony Morrow recently on "The Life Podcast."

[RELATED: Warriors facility opens, players show up]

Would it be advantageous for the Warriors to get a brief look at Curry playing alongside Andrew Wiggins? Sure, but they don't need to risk injury to either player when the goal is making sure the team is ready to bounce back for the 2020-21 season.

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Steph Curry reacts to Damian Lillard's comments on 'meaningless games'

Steph Curry reacts to Damian Lillard's comments on 'meaningless games'

Damian Lillard created headlines last week with his comments about the NBA's potential plans for resuming the 2019-20 season.

"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team," the Portland Trail Blazers star guard told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes. "But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now.

"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs -- I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games."

What is Steph Curry's reaction to that?

"I feel what he's saying because it's hard mentally to go with this long of gap, and then prepare for games you know don't matter," the Warriors' superstar said on the "The Life Podcast" with Anthony Morrow and Justin Jack. "I get it.

"It's a hard thing to put your mind in that space, 'I'm gonna go out here and compete and bust my a-- and know in five games we're just gonna be back in the offseason again.'"

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Golden State did re-open Chase Center facilities Monday so players could work out again, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. 

But all indications are that the Warriors won't be playing any additional games this season, and will not be included among the teams that eventually will take the court in Orlando.

[RELATED: Oakland's own Lillard rips Orlovsky for calling him spoiled]

"Between now and Thursday's vote of the board of governors on the plan to restart the season, the NBA is working to complete the details of a 22-team format," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe wrote Monday.

So for Lillard and the Blazers -- who currently sit in a three-way tie for ninth place in the Western Conference -- it appears they will get the opportunity to claw their way into the playoffs.

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