Draymond Green relishes every opportunity to prove his defensive worth, and the Warriors forward really seeks another level when facing a player of stature or preceded by hype.
Green’s next assignment, Thursday night at Oracle Arena, definitely fits both the profiles.
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis is 7-foot-3, plays in New York and he’s so uniquely gifted that one of his nicknames is “the unicorn.”
As a rookie last season, Porzingis faced Green twice and both times was erased. The Latvian totaled eight points on 4-of-19 shooting in the two games, both Warriors routs. Green posted a triple-double – going 9-of-9 from the field – at Madison Square Garden and then held Porzingis to three points on 1-of-11 shooting when the Knicks came to Oakland.
Here comes Round 3, and Porzingis seems eager for payback.
“Last season, right after the game was over I was thinking when was the next time we were going to get a chance to play against them,” Porzingis told reporters Wednesday in San Francisco.
“I’m ready for him.”
Porzingis has been terrific this week, scoring 26 points against the Lakers on Sunday in Los Angeles, followed by 34 against the Suns on Tuesday in Phoenix. He’s averaging 20.6 points per game, second on the Knicks behind veteran star Carmelo Anthony (22.0).
But Green also has been fabulous, particularly on defense. His strip of Anthony Davis – which, upon next-day NBA review, was considered a foul – locked up a 113-109 win over the Pelicans on Monday in New Orleans.
“Both games he played really well defensively against me,’’ Porzingis said of Green. “So he’s one of the top defenders in the league. It’s going to be a challenge . . . but I’m really looking forward to it.
“We didn’t really talk about nothing,” Porzingis added in response to the possibility of trash talk. “But after games like that, you don’t even need anybody to talk to you. I want to go out there."