To best illustrate the impact of Draymond Green’s absence at this point in this Warriors' season, please allow us to use a baseball analogy.
The best team in the major leagues loses, at once, for an indefinite period, its starting catcher and ace pitcher.
Yeah, losing Draymond, the backbone of the defense, is that enormous to the Warriors.
Green on Sunday reportedly entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and could miss the next 10 days, during which the Warriors play four games, the next of which is scheduled for Tuesday in San Francisco against the Denver Nuggets. The news was first reported by The Athletic.
The length of time Draymond will be out could be reduced if he tests negative for COVID-19 twice in a 24-hour window.
The timing is particularly challenging for the Warriors, who are coming off their best win of the season, a 116-107 win on Christmas Day in Phoenix. The victory was magnified by it being accomplished without Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, their second- and third-best scorers, both in health and safety protocols, as well as valuable reserve Andre Iguodala, who was sidelined by knee soreness.
Winning without Green, however, is a far more daunting task, which makes the upcoming schedule that much more imposing. After the home game against the Nuggets, the Warriors travel to Denver for a rematch on Thursday, followed by a game at Utah (21-9) on New Year’s Day before returning home Jan. 3 to face the Heat, who entered Sunday with a 20-13 record.
As the team’s primary facilitator, Draymond has a tremendous impact on the machinery of the offense. Moreover, he is the very essence of the defense – the best individual defender, best team defender and probably the top defensive coordinator in the league.
Draymond, more than anybody else, is why the Warriors have the NBA’s No. 1 defense.
Though Green is the fifth member of the team to enter protocols – joining Damion Lee, Moses Moody, Poole and Wiggins – the Warriors should have enough depth to avoid postponements, considering Poole is eligible to return on Tuesday.
That is unless other Warriors test positive and follow Green into protocols.
Green’s absence makes Juan Toscano-Anderson the logical replacement as the starting power forward, playing alongside temporary starting small forward Otto Porter Jr.
No doubt, though, the Warriors are a dramatically weaker team without Draymond, whose overall impact is different than that of Curry but no less significant.
Indeed, it’s hard to imagine the effectiveness of Curry won’t be diminished without his longtime sidekick.