You know you're either really good or really bad at something if they name a statistic after you.
In the case of Warriors forward Draymond Green, it's most definitely the former option.
The former Defensive Player of the Year has long been regarded as one of the top all-around defenders in the NBA. However, the ways in which we've been able to evaluate defensive performance up to this point haven't painted the whole picture. Blocks and steals are good, sure, but there's a lot more that goes into being a good defender then simply collecting stats in those categories.
Similarly, the league-provided opponent shooting data can produce the unintended consequence of punishing good defenders, simply due to being the nearest defender to the shot. After all, if the defender hadn't been there at all, there's no guarantee anyone else would have, and some defense is typically better than none.
It's with that disconnect in mind that FiveThirtyEight set out to develop a better way to evaluate NBA defense. And which player have they chosen to name their model after?
None other than Green, of course.
FiveThirtyEight's 'DRAYMOND' metric stands for Defensive Rating Accounting for Yielding Minimal Openness by Nearest Defender. A mouthful, I know.
But don't be daunted by the name. Without dumbing it down too much, DRAYMOND essentially calculates a player's effectiveness at minimizing the openness of opponent shots, relative to the rest of the league. It's a plus-minus statistic measured per 100 possessions, where a score of 0 represents average defense.
And, among all players who have played at least 10,000 possessions over the last six seasons, guess who rates out as the top defender, according to DRAYMOND?
That's right. Draymond. Duh.
Since the 2013-14 season, Green leads all such players with a DRAYMOND rating of plus-3.16, meaning he's been worth an average of 3.16 points per 100 possessions of defensive value over that span based on his scoring defense alone. That doesn't even factor in the other ways (blocks, steals, etc.) in which he makes a more traditionally measured defensive impact.
What's even more impressive is that Green has played far and away the most possessions (38,282) over that span of any of the top-ranked players according to DRAYMOND. Only two other players in the top-20 have played at least 30,000 possessions over the last six seasons.
After Green, DRAYMOND ranks Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Dallas' Kristaps Porzingis, Utah's Rudy Gobert (the reigning Defensive Player of the Year), Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, Oklahoma City's Andre Roberson and Los Angeles' Anthony Davis as the best defenders dating back to 2013-14, which -- for the most part -- passes the eye test.
Green took a step back defensively last season, though, posting a DRAYMOND rating of plus-1.76 points per 100 possessions. However, only one other NBA player -- Giannis Antetokounmpo -- played more possessions than Green and rated higher.
Golden State's best defender last season, according to DRAYMOND? That would be Kevon Looney, who ranked eighth-best in the NBA with a DRAYMOND rating of plus-2.72 points per 100 possessions.
As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. But based on the results produced by the DRAYMOND metric, it seems to do a better job of highlighting the top defenders in the league than the more rudimentary statistics we've generally relied upon until now.
Green believes he's the best defender in the NBA. Now DRAYMOND does, too.