Draymond Green won two state championships in high school before attending Michigan State for four years, over which he and the Spartans went 107-39 and reached two Final Fours. Upon entering the NBA as a second-round draft pick, he had reached the playoffs in every single season of his professional career.
Well, until this season.
With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both sidelined for the vast majority of the season and Kevin Durant no longer a member of Golden State, Green suddenly was forced to encounter a reality he hadn't yet experienced as an NBA player. The 50 losses the Warriors accrued in 65 games prior to the current season being indefinitely paused due to the coronavirus pandemic were more than Golden State experienced in the two previous seasons combined. In fact, over the previous five seasons, the Dubs lost only 88 combined regular-season games.
So, yeah, it was an adjustment.
"I think this year was really frustrating for him offensively," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green on KNBR's "Tolbert, Kreuger and Brooks" Podcast, "and then as a competitor, it was frustrating for him just losing night after night. It's just too difficult in this league to try to win games when you're that shorthanded. I think he dealt with the frustration. He definitely boiled over several times, got kicked out. But, overall, I just thought he handled himself well."
With the Warriors obviously not headed for the postseason, they were able to curb back Green's minutes. In addition to appearing in only 43 of Golden State's 65 games, he also averaged his fewest minutes per contest (28.4) since 2013-14 -- the last season in which the Warriors didn't reach the NBA Finals. Kerr believes that lighter load, combined with the additional rest Green has had due to the long layoff, will result in his best performance yet next season.
"He made it through, and he is getting a much-needed rest," Kerr continued. "And I think we're going to see the very best version of Draymond next year, whenever next season starts. I feel really good about where he's going to be mentally and physically."
Green has a Defensive Player of the Year on his résumé and was a crucial member of three NBA title-winning teams. If Kerr is right and the Warriors get the best version of Green they've yet to see, safe to say it'll be far more enjoyable season for him and them, both.
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