SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors on Saturday added a dimension to their offense. It’s not entirely new; we’ve seen it before. But it’s exceedingly rare, like a windmill dunk in traffic or an eight-second backcourt violation.
Draymond Green walked into Chase Center with his scoring bag. The man so often allergic to shooting took the floor for tipoff and immediately began chasing buckets. Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole were out there, too, but Draymond’s eyes were on the rim.
As they should have been and as they should be more often.
“It gives us another option,” Curry said. “When he’s aggressive, and there’s that instinct to just go, right away, it keeps the defense honest.”
This is not to suggest Green should open every game blasting toward the basket. Or that he should get greedy and take more shots than Curry, as he did in the first quarter of a 103-82 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder before a sellout crowd (18,064) at Chase Center.
This is to hypothesize that if Draymond is more willing to take the money opposing defenses leave on the table exclusively for him, then the Warriors will be better for it.
Curry, getting his usual outsize share of attention, took only three shots in the opening quarter, scoring three points. Meanwhile, Green was scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 1-of-2 from deep, which put the Thunder defense in the awkward position of having to defend, well, Draymond Green.
“It forces teams to adapt and respond to him when he's driving hard to the rim and trying to score,” coach Steve Kerr said.
“It’s huge,” Curry said. “He knew how OKC guarded us when we went there (last Tuesday) and he knew he was going to have a lot of openings and freedom to make those drives, be open in the corner -- he hit that 3 in the first quarter. But no hesitation. When he saw an opening, he took it.
“And that domino effect is huge for us, especially in his playmaking area at the top of the key. If it’s not a shot, it’s a drive. The defense has to react or he’s finishing at the rim. And when they do pull over or collapse in the paint, he’s great at making plays for everybody.”
Draymond was the Golden State’s leading scorer in the first half, with 14 points, but the offense balanced out after halftime. He didn’t score again, but contributed five rebounds and four assists in 10 second-half minutes while Curry put in 15 points to finish with a game-high 20. Poole and Wiggins each scored 14 points.
There was a source of inspiration behind Green’s initial scoring burst. He got it from TV. He had watched Michigan State, where he went to college, post a stirring comeback win over arch-rival Michigan in a game that ended early Saturday afternoon.
“Draymond was so happy that Michigan State beat Michigan today that he came out firing,” Kerr said. “We kind of all knew it. He was in full green and white at our walkthrough: Michigan State socks, shoes and sweatshirt -- gloating, especially to Jordan Poole (who attended Michigan).”
Draymond offered no denial. Rather, he affirmed Kerr’s comments.
“Absolutely,” Green said. “You just feel good coming into the day. It was 9 a.m. (kickoff) our time. Starting the day like that, just felt good the rest of the day. Definitely feed off of some of that energy.”
With 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Green came within a couple dimes of his 31st career triple-double -- and he played only 25 minutes. A high-velocity 25 minutes.
Coaches have been known to resort to allegoric video to inspire their teams, maybe a war movie or a boxing match, something of real intensity. Green got his boost from the big screen, hours before he arrived at Chase Center.
No movies or boxing matches, please. Too contrived for his liking.
“I like things to be organic,” Green said. “And today, we organically kicked their a--. And I organically had a lot of energy. I’m not one to go back and watching something that’s going to get me going. That ain’t it.
“But when Michigan State organically kicks scum a--, I’ll organically fly around the court.”
It’s up to the Warriors to find a way to provide an organic jolt that will nudge Draymond into the scoring zone every time a defense dares him to shoot, which is often. After all, it’s evident that he and his teammates would benefit.