Warriors

Warriors' Steve Kerr explains Draymond Green's 'really bizarre' reality

Warriors' Steve Kerr explains Draymond Green's 'really bizarre' reality

It's been a very strange season so far for the Warriors.

And it has been a very strange season so far for Draymond Green.

After missing five games because of a torn ligament in his left index finger, the three-time All-Star returned to action Monday night against the Jazz. Before receiving a two-technical ejection early in the fourth quarter, he recorded four points, seven rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes, while going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

"He was a little rusty his first run and then after that he looked much better," coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Golden State's loss. "He's easing his way back from injury but he's also easing his way into a team he's never really seen before.

"The circumstances are really bizarre for him when you think about where we've been and how he's played and with whom he's played. Now, it's a totally different look. We're running a different offense.

"He's trying to find his place in all of that."

With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson sidelined, the Warriors predominantly have become a pick-and-roll team with D'Angelo Russell running the show.

The results have been very positive.

But Draymond simply doesn't have the ball in his hands as much anymore.

"Kind of a strange case where the guy who's been here the longest all of the sudden is the newest with what we're doing," Kerr added. "Another bizarre twist.

"But he and I have talked about it and we're good, and he's gonna do everything he can to help these young guys come along. He'll fit in with what we're trying to do. He'll get better and we'll get better."

The three-time NBA champion doesn't sound too concerned about his role.

"I’ve always been a playmaker," Green explained. "I don't really have the ball much. So it affects me. But it's nothing. It is what it is. Just figure it out.

"It’s not the first time in my career I’ve had to figure something out. It takes a little time to do, but I'll be fine. It's no big deal."

But will Draymond actually be fine? The 2017 Defensive Player of the Year is not used to losing.

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He won back-to-back state titles in his junior and senior seasons of high school and reached the Final Four his first two years at Michigan State (and the Spartans were a No. 1 seed in 2012 when they were upset in the Sweet 16).

The Warriors made the playoffs his first seven NBA seasons and just went to five straight NBA Finals.

Plain and simple, the 2019-20 campaign is not going to be very fun for Draymond.

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Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Throughout his career, Draymond Green simultaneously has been Golden State's emotional leader and one of its best players. 

On teams featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, Green consistently was the team's emotional heartbeat, occasionally willing his squads to unforeseen victories in standout performances that didn't necessarily reflect on the stat sheet. 

The latest example of Green's impact came in the last 12 minutes of Friday's 100-98 win over the Bulls, when he passed, defended and guided the Warriors to their fifth win of the season. 

A glimpse of Green's impact came four seconds before the final frame began when Golden State coach Steve Kerr substituted Green for Jordan Poole. On the next play, Green switched onto Bulls guard Coby White, forcing an off-balance miss. Four minutes into the fourth quarter -- with Golden State down 89-84 -- he successfully contested a Tomas Satoransky jump shot, leading to a fastbreak opportunity. Four minutes later, Green received a pass from guard D'Angelo Russell, drove the lane and found center Willie Cauley Stein for a dunk. With a minute left and the game tied at 98, he found Glenn Robinson III for another lob dunk to help seal the victory. 

Green -- who finished with nine points, five rebounds and four steals -- was responsible for 10 of the team's 23 fourth-quarter points, helping the Warriors outscore Chicago by eight points in the final frame. 

"Our defensive pressure picked up," Green explained after the win. "I think down the stretch in games, you have to do that. There have been games this year where teams have put pressure on us and we didn't respond well. I think tonight we were the aggressors and it worked out in our favor."

"He made great plays down the stretch," Robinson said of Green. "He got down on the floor for loose balls. He got us going, his talk, his communication. You always want a player like that the floor, directing things."

Green's performance came at a particular time of peril for Golden State. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup, the Warriors are one of the league's worst teams. In their last four games entering Friday night, they had been outscored by 61 points, including a 106-91 blowout loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. 

[RELATED: Sources: Steph has surgery to remove pins from hand]

Worse, Green's play has followed suit. Over his previous nine appearances, he had shot just 38.5 percent from the field while dealing with a myriad of injuries. On Friday, both he and his team found their stride. 

"We played the whole game hard," Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. "I felt like as a team, that's a big step for us after the last two games. We felt like we didn't compete at a high level. I felt like it was real good for us just in terms of coming out with a win."

Golden State's season has been new territory for Green. Since entering the NBA, he has never missed the playoffs, but with the Warriors' star-studded cast out for an extended time, that streak is expected to end. That makes Friday's act of leadership all the more important going forward. 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls

BOX SCORE

Too bad the Warriors can't play the Bulls every night. 

In their latest outing, the Warriors beat Chicago 100-98, sweeping the season series against Chicago while avoiding a winless five-game road trip. 

After Warriors coach Steve Kerr lamented his team's uninspired play, Golden State put together its best effort in nearly a week. 

The Warriors aren't going to beat most teams on talent like recent years. In order to have a chance on a nightly basis, they'll have to play as hard as they did Friday night at United Center. 

Here are the takeaways:

All heart

In the days leading up Chicago, Kerr was critical of his team's hustle and spirit. Against the Bulls, the Warriors got the hint, highlighted by a 16-5 run to start the second quarter. Golden State shot 57 percent from the field in the frame, helping the team get within one point at halftime. 

Similar efforts were littered throughout the game. When the Bulls went up seven, the Warriors went on a 14-5 run to take a brief lead. Eric Paschall continued his stellar rookie season, scoring 13 points, adding three rebounds and two assists. 

As they grow, the Warriors will continue to learn lessons during their transition. The one constant will have to be the effort they showed Friday. 

Too many miscues

Golden State's response to Kerr's demand would've been smoother with better control of the basketball. The Warriors committed 11 of their game-high 19 turnovers in the first half. 

Entering Friday, Chicago was among the stingiest teams in the league, forcing 18 turnovers per game.

Turnovers are a function of undisciplined play. The Warriors' youth was on display, and they were fortunate to get the win.

[RELATED: Ask Kerith: Why Warriors' focus is on player development]

Robinson drilling III's

In a game the Warriors needed an extra scoring punch, they got it from Robinson, who scored 20 points, including two 3-pointers. After struggling at the beginning of the season, Robinson has come alive in recent games. 

Over his last eight outings, he's averaging 13.6 points while shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range. 

If Robinson can keep this up, he will force his way into Golden State's future plans.