Warriors

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Why Draymond Green's rant defending Marquese Chriss was mostly spot on

Injuries have kept players off the court for months, even years, and buried the hopes of entire teams. They’ve derailed entire NBA seasons.

For the Warriors of this season, however, injuries may have brought them prosperity.

Without injuries to projected centers Willie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, they might not know what they have in Marquese Chriss, who was signed to a non-guaranteed contract but is playing his way onto the roster.

The Warriors are positioned to gain what the Suns -- who drafted Chriss in 2016 -- lost when they traded him out of Phoenix after two seasons. That certainly is the perspective of Draymond Green, and his impassioned defense of Chriss is mostly on point.

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green told reporters Wednesday night, after a 126-93 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these s---ty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault.

“He’s getting older now, so he’s not a kid anymore. But he came into this league as a kid. But it’s never the organization’s fault. It’s always that guy.”

“So I’m happy he’s got another opportunity to show what he can really do. Because he’s a prime example.”

Green wasn’t quite done. He also saved some ammo for media, indicating reporters are more likely to direct blame on a player than a franchise.

“Because you’re friends with them,” Green said. “You want all the access from them. So, the way you guys will come out and bash players, y’all don’t do that to organizations because it’s all about access and protecting your future. No one really protects these younger guys’ futures. Because it’s all about ‘what can I do for myself.’

“So, no one talks about the organizations. It’s always just the player, the player, the player. Because they can’t do s--t about it but be young. And their name carries no weight, and then (they’ll) be out of the league and onto the next thing.

“No Phoenix writer is going to bash the Phoenix Suns,” Green continued. “But let’s be frank about it. When he was there, the organization was terrible. Everything was going wrong. But he get blamed, like he’s the problem. When he left, ain’t nothing go right. That’s my take on it.”

OK. Again, some of Green’s claims are on target. There are instances of young players being blamed for their failure, while franchises skate.

The Warriors have been skating for a few years now, but it wasn’t always so. They’ve been kicked plenty over the many lean years they put up. Former owner Chris Cohan was such a punching bag that he retreated from media exposure. His right-hand man, former team president Robert Rowell, also took his absorption of bruises from local media.

That’s about where the Suns are now. Since real estate/banking tycoon Robert Sarver purchased the team 15 years ago, they have been in such a freefall that they’ve become a blight on the league.

The Knicks of the Western Conference.

And they have been taken to task -- nationally and locally -- for being a once-proud franchise run aground by cantankerous and penurious ownership.

Green is wrong about that.

Green likely is right about the Suns not knowing what they had in Chriss. Someone in the front office thought enough to draft him No. 8 overall in 2016. But the chaos upstairs -- largely generated by Sarver -- has resulted in a dizzying array of impulsive and regrettable decisions.

If not for the incompetence of Sarver and the Suns, Chriss probably would not be a Warrior, and he certainly wouldn’t have to accept a non-guaranteed contract, as he did 17 days ago.

And if not for injuries to Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney, the Warriors might not have much of a file on Chriss, either.

[RELATED: Looney to miss preseason; Dubs hope he'll play in opener]

For now, they stand to benefit from having Chriss on the roster. He’s not there yet, but he will be. Any day now.

Draymond Green: Warriors '100 percent' win title if Klay Thompson healthy

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Draymond Green: Warriors '100 percent' win title if Klay Thompson healthy

The Warriors had a chance to win their third consecutive championship in the 2019 NBA Finals, but crippling injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in tandem with Kawhi Leonard playing like a young Michael Jordan ended Golden State’s dream of a three-peat.

However, even after losing KD in Game 5 of the series, Golden State was still in the lead at home in Game 6 before Thompson’s knee buckled and dashed the Warriors’ hopes and dreams of glory in Oracle Arena’s NBA finale.

Warriors star Draymond Green firmly believes that barring those injuries to Klay and KD, he’d have a fourth championship ring to add to his extensive trophy case.

“If Klay Thompson had been healthy, I 100 percent believe that we win the title last year,” Green told ESPN’s Sam Alipour. “We have no way of ever knowing, but I 100 percent believe that.”

[RELATED: Why Draymond's excited to play like he did before KD joined]

The Warriors would have had to go back up to Toronto for Game 7 and win in order to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, but a healthy Klay Thompson definitely would have made that a much more attainable mission.

Unfortunately for Draymond and all Warriors fans, the human race hasn’t discovered the ability to time travel, so we’ll never know who would come out on top in that ideal scenario.

Warriors' Draymond Green excited to play like he did pre-Kevin Durant

Warriors' Draymond Green excited to play like he did pre-Kevin Durant

It's wild how things can change so quickly in such a short amount of time.

In late September -- just before the Warriors opened training camp -- Draymond Green had lofty expectations for the 2019-20 season.

"I'm going back to the way I was pre-KD (Kevin Durant), and that's exciting to me," he told Sam Alipour of ESPN in an article published Friday. "I had to give up shots to make sure Kevin gets his touches, and I don't regret that. It got me a couple of championships.

"But as a competitor, as someone who's still in his prime, who's been in the gym all summer trying to improve my game, it's exciting to know that I can go back to playing the way that I was playing before.

"You haven't seen the best of me. I'm definitely not at my peak. I have so much room to grow, new heights that I can reach -- like becoming a 40 percent 3-point shooter. That'd be amazing, right?

"My shooting dropped off the last couple of seasons, but it's tough when you're taking only two or three 3s a game. My percentages were a lot higher when I took more."

Well, fast forward six weeks later and Draymond finds himself in unchartered territory as the Warriors (2-10) have the worst record in the NBA.

Plain and simple, he doesn't look like himself so far. He not only is playing without Klay Thompson, but Steph Curry also won't be taking the floor for several more months, and Kevon Looney remains out indefinitely.

As a result, the Warriors predominantly have become a pick-and-roll team, as Draymond finds himself watching D'Angelo Russell run the show.

"I’ve always been a playmaker. I don't really have the ball much," the three-time All-Star told reporters Monday night after Golden State's loss to the Jazz.

"This is going to allow him to play off the ball and space out and work on his shot," coach Steve Kerr told the media Tuesday. "I'm going to encourage that. He can get that confidence back."

Let's take a look at Draymond's 3-point shooting over the years:
-2015-16 = 38.8 percent on 3.2 attempts
-2016-17 = 30.8 percent on 3.5 attempts
-2017-18 = 30.1 percent on 3.7 attempts
-2018-19 = 28.5 percent on 2.5 attempts

So Draymond's earlier point about fewer attempts negatively impacting his percentage doesn't really hold up, because he shot more triples in the first two seasons with KD than he did during his career-year in 2015-16.

But in his defense, Draymond making those shots didn't matter as much with KD onboard because the loaded Warriors probably were going to win the game anyway.

[RELATEDHow much one bettor makes if Warriors win 2020 NBA Finals]

That no longer is the case. And even if Draymond were to go 8-for-10 from deep in a game this season, the Dubs still might lose.

But thinking big picture, the two-time All-NBA selection absolutely should use this season to regain his consistency from beyond the arc (he went 2-for-4 on Wednesday against the Lakers). As it pertains to that 40 percent goal, the mindset he had in late September should not change.

Given the circumstances, that won't be easy on a nightly basis.

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