Warriors

Why Draymond is top candidate to win NBA's DPOY award

Warriors
Zion Williamson, Draymond Green

The NBA MVP debate is a conversation that starts before the season does. It starts in the playoffs the season before. The Rookie of the Year debate usually starts the morning after the draft, but sometimes can start during the weeks leading up to it. 

But the Defensive Player of the Year talk doesn't happen until the award is handed out. Occasionally it'll start earlier, but it feels like that's only the case when there is a defender so dominant you can't help but talk about it. But it's just about that one player -- there's no debate or back and forth.

"It’s not very controversial because no one in the world gives a damn about defense," Draymond Green said Monday. "So it doesn’t create as much controversy because no one cares about defense, as if it doesn’t win games and championships."

We all know that's not true. Green has been evidence of that. So according to him, who should be this year's DPOY? 

"You know me well," Green said staring deep into the lens connecting him with reporters through Zoom. It was his drop the mic moment, getting up and leaving the press conference after muttering those words. 

It's true, we do know him. Green believes he should be the Defensive Player of the Year. He has good reason to believe that. 

Green is the reason why the Warriors have the fifth-best defensive rating in the league and third-best defensive field goal percentage. You can also measure Green's impact on Golden State's defense by looking at the inverse -- the Warriors had the fifth-worst defensive rating when they started the season without the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year.

 

What exactly does Green do that makes him so effective on defense and puts him as a top contender for this season's best defensive player? It's an allusive and subjective thing to look at. 

"(Defense) a little tougher to evaluate," Green said. "Because on offense, you evaluate by assists, you evaluate by points. At times, defense is evaluated by blocks and steals, but that doesn’t necessarily tell the story. Some of the worst defenders in NBA history have led the league in steals or been right up there in that category."

Green is averaging 0.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. But as he said, that does not indicate how good his defense has been. 

What makes Green such an effective defender is his basketball IQ. But that is hard to measure because it's not a concrete and tangible statistic. 

But it allows him to position himself correctly on the court, think a few steps ahead of an opponent and make all the correct reads to make it difficult on them. 

Green knows the tendencies of the players he guards, and always keeps that in mind when going up against them. Against Zion Williamson last week, Green knew not to let up after Williamson made his first move. It's a mistake Green has seen other defenders do time and time again, so he didn't stop moving and covered Williamson all the way to the hoop. 

Against the Philadelphia 76ers, he constantly positioned himself between Joel Embiid and whoever was trying to feed Embiid the ball. 

He is one of a handful of players who can defend elite players one-on-one while also providing help and team defense and is one of the most switchable defenders. He ranks third in the NBA in defensive win shares and fourth in defensive box plus-minus. 

"To me, this has been one of his best seasons," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I know he’s been an All-Star, and Defensive Player of the Year, and all that. But given our team and Draymond’s position with the team, the talent that we’ve lost over the years, to me this is one of the best seasons of Draymond’s career."

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"I think I'm having a really good year. Is it the best of my career? I don’t know," Green said in response to his coach's praise. "But think I am having a really good year, all things considered. And I'm starting to play even better down the stretch."

Green might be modest when it comes to evaluating his overall performance this season, but as he said, with little to no words after Monday's game, he knows he has been playing the best defense in the league this year. 

It might not be a topic of conversation, but it doesn't have to be for Green to know it. 

 

"If you know basketball, I think you think it's me," Green shouted as he left the interview room. 

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