Kerr really seeing how important Draymond is Dubs' defense

Draymond defending Will Barton

Draymond Green used to be known for the energy he brought to the Warriors. He was known as the heartbeat. That energy hasn't gone away and is evident by the passionate in-game coaching sessions he gives James Wiseman.

But now Green's energetic boost goes beyond just words. It's through his actions -- particularly on defense. 

"It's very obvious how much he changes our team," Steve Kerr told the media before tipoff against the New York Knicks on Thursday. "We've looked at the numbers over the games that he's played ... we were a mess without him. I think Draymond is recognizing how important he is to our team and he's motivated, he's excited and it's really showing in his play."

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Kerr and his staff were correct in their assessment of how the Warriors' defense was doing without Green. In the four games Green was absent, the Warriors had the 25th-ranked defense in the league. In the 10 games Green has played in, the Warriors have the seventh-best defense. 

The "brilliance" of Green's defense is a combination of his anticipation and the level of physicality with which he plays with. It's been reminiscent of the version of Green who won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2017. 

Kerr doesn't see Green as an exact replica of who he was that year. After all, now that Green is 30, he's lost that pizzazz that comes with being in his 20s. 


"As you get older, how does your body hold up?" Kerr said. "Part of it is genetics and some of it is the work you put in."

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That being said, it's encouraging that Green is playing at this high of a level. And it's clear that Warriors need him to for them to succeed. And in Kerr's eyes, there's still room for improvement.

"I don't think Draymond is in his best shape yet," Kerr said. "So I think it's really encouraging that he's playing as well as he is. When you consider he had nine months off and then missed all of training camp, I think he's just now getting his legs underneath him.

"I think he can be even better. He's motivated ... he's doing everything we're asking of him so that's all you can do as you get older and try to maintain that level of play."