Draymond Green is the captain of the Warriors' top-ranked defense, and says he approaches that end of the court similar to an NFL middle linebacker.
"It’s important to cover for everyone. Whether you’re stopping the roll, whether you’re stopping the block. That’s covering on the backdoor cut. That’s putting guys in the right position. That’s the middle linebacker who’s reading the play and knows what the offense is going to do right up to the line, and shifts his defensive tackle over to close the gap you know they’re about to run through," Draymond told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner. "That’s how I like to approach the defensive end: a linebacker who’s going to get everybody in the right spots. And after I get them into the right spots, that middle linebacker has to be there to cover them."
Green is a six-time All-Defensive team selection, and was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. After several seasons near the bottom -- seasons when Green was limited by injury -- the Warriors are back at the top of the NBA's best defenses, by a wide margin.
The Warriors are a full point and a half better than the next-best defensive rating in the NBA. Ironically, that team happens to be the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors' opponents for the primetime Christmas Day showdown at Footprint Center.
That 101.8 rating is the Warriors' best mark since the 2014-15 season, the first year Green was a full-time starter and the first championship for Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Draymond often fills in at center for the Warriors, especially when Steve Kerr employs the vaunted small-ball lineups that terrorized the league from 2014-19. Green emphasized how important it is for a big man to be vocal on defense.
"Because more often than not, you’re the back line of the defense. You’re everyone’s eyes. You can see everything that’s taking place. Sometimes you have a guard on the ball who can’t see anything behind him, doesn’t have a clue. So if you aren’t talking, being the eyes for that entire defense, it doesn’t work."
The Warriors will need Green's best play-calling Saturday as they try and take down the Western Conference-leading Suns in Phoenix.