Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday night at 6 p.m. PT streaming live on the MyTeams app.
If you own any Draymond Green stock and are looking to sell, please give me a call at 1-800-IM-GOING-ALL-IN-ON-DRAYMOND-GREEN.
People everywhere are jumping off the Draymond bandwagon. They believe his best basketball is behind him and that he’ll never be the same player he was a couple seasons ago.
I don't agree.
In 2015-16, Draymond averaged 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting 49 percent overall and 38.8 percent from deep. Is it possible that he’ll never again rack up those kind of numbers again over the course of an entire regular season? Yes. I will not deny that. But that's mainly because Draymond's outlook and perspective have dramatically changed.
Remember, after the Warriors won the NBA title in 2015, some prominent voices in the basketball world said it was a fluke and Golden State was lucky. This did not sit well with Draymond. Combine that with the fact he wanted to prove to all the doubters that he deserved the five-year, $82 million contract he signed, and you get the type of season that warranted an All-NBA second-team selection.
Then, the Warriors signed Kevin Durant. And with him onboard, Draymond's role shifted some.
Golden State no longer needed him to shoot or score as much as he did the previous year (especially during the regular season), and this can have a big impact on how a player approaches each game. If you don't take the floor with the mindset that your team is counting on you to score and make 3-pointers, this certainly can affect one's numbers.
For Draymond, this definitely was a factor in his shooting percentages dipping to 41.8 percent overall and 30.8 percent from deep. But he still averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, and claimed his first NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
And when the playoffs rolled around, Draymond increased those averages to 13.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. It's funny how people seem to forget this.
Last season was a major grind for the Warriors. They dealt with a bunch of injuries and didn't play with as much joy. And after surviving the Rockets and sweeping the Cavs, Draymond said winning that championship was the hardest thing he's ever done in his life. Over 70 regular-season games, he averaged 11.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks. He shot a respectable 45.4 percent overall, but his 3-point accuracy dipped to 30.1.
Once again -- when the bright lights of the playoffs were turned on -- Draymond delivered in a big way. Over the first two rounds against the Spurs and the Pelicans, he averaged 13.1 points, 11.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per game on 42.3 percent shooting overall and 33.3 percent from long range. Yes, his numbers against the Rockets in the Western Conference finals dipped, but that was in large part to the series' style.
Draymond still had a huge impact on the defensive end, and after Game 2, Warriors coach Steve Kerr defended him by saying: "Numbers don't matter. Every series is different. The Pelicans played at an ungodly pace. Everyone's numbers are going to be up. So who cares? It's a slower pace. It's a more methodical game. Triple-double is just a bunch of crap."
And we finally arrive at this season. If you watched the Warriors-Lakers game on Christmas Day, you’re well aware that Draymond did not play well. In 25 minutes, he scored just four points and turned over the ball four times. Here are three plays that stick out in people's minds:
This is the air-balled 3-pointer that messed with Draymond’s mindset last night (look at Tyson Chandler turn and taunt Draymond) pic.twitter.com/e65rKUX8zp— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 26, 2018
Because he had already airballed a 3, you can tell Draymond didn’t really want to shoot here. But he ends up reluctantly taking the 3 and missing it way short pic.twitter.com/3QZ06AMK2m— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 26, 2018
Draymond passes up this wide open 3-pointer because he was 0-for-3 on 3s (including an airball) pic.twitter.com/janEXNblks— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 26, 2018
His performance led to tweets like this:
I just want to point out that Draymond has had a genuinely embarrassing season. And also, for whatever reason, can’t shoot anymore.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) December 26, 2018
This is where it's important to provide some context and remind people that over the Warriors' first 10 games, Draymond averaged 8.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.9 blocks on 48.5 percent shooting. Despite the fact that he made just 26 percent of his 3-pointers in that span (on just 2.3 attempts per game), he was playing fantastic basketball and Golden State was rolling at 9-1.
Then he sprained his toe against the Grizzlies, Steph Curry went down against the Bucks, Draymond and Kevin Durant had their on-court drama against the Clippers, and the season took a little bit of a detour. Draymond returned Dec. 10 after missing 14 games, but his 3-point shot was lacking. However, it was just a few days ago when Draymond went 2 of 4 and 2 of 5 from deep against the Mavs and Clippers, respectively.
There's no doubt that part of the issue is psychological. After the win over Dallas last Saturday, Draymond said it's "always good to see that first one go in -- you're confidence kind of grows. Just gotta stay aggressive."
But even if Draymond misses his first attempt, he can't get passive. He loves facilitating and setting up Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson for shots. But if teams continue to leave him wide open beyond the arc, he should be confident that he can make them pay. He wasn't able to do this against the Lakers, and after the loss he blamed himself for messing up the whole offense and acknowledged that he was too hesitant when he got the ball in the halfcourt.
All it took was his Christmas Day dud for the narrative to immedately shift back to "Draymond can't shoot anymore" or "the Warriors can't win the championship unless Draymond starts making 3-pointers again." That simply isn't true. Draymond probably won’t shoot 39 percent from deep for the rest of the season, but can he hover in the 33 to 35 percent range? Absolutely.
Keep doubting Draymond. Keep betting against him, and keep questioning his status as an elite player. Please sell your stock so I can buy it and become a rich man when he starts making 3-pointers more consistently and plays his best basketball in the playoffs.
I would like to thank you in advance ...
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller