Warriors’ Draymond Green Needs One Adjustment After Long Suspension – NBC Sports Bay Area and California
SAN FRANCISCO — After serving a five-game suspension, Draymond Green sat on the podium Sunday and said he’s going to play basketball like he always has. This is everything the Warriors and their fans wanted.
Green’s basketball performance is rarely a burden. He is a great defender and effective communicator. He can organize crime. His IQ is talent level.
“I’m going to play basketball the same way I play basketball,” Green said. “The way I play basketball got me here. The way I play basketball has brought me a tremendous amount of success, both individually and from a team standpoint. So, I’m always going to be myself. I’m not changing that.”
All fair statements, except that his game is not in doubt.
It’s Green’s behavior that hurt the Warriors. It’s the source of six games lost to suspension over a 24-game stretch dating back to the 2023 NBA playoffs. It’s also why he’s been ejected three other times over the same span. The Warriors were 3-3 in games in which Green was suspended, and 0-3 in games in which he was ejected. Teams with six losses for every three wins have their sights set on the lottery come February.
It’s Green’s non-basketball actions that will have to change to avoid such declines. No more opponents in headlocks or fingerprints on their chests. No more of his teammates would feel his grip either. It’s an emotional adjustment, yes, but he understands it’s necessary.
“I have to be on the field for my teammates,” Green said. “Our chances of winning go down dramatically if I’m not there. So, I’ve got to be better at being there as one of the leaders of this group. I just have to find different ways. That’s the biggest lesson about it. You have to be there for your teammates.” “
You have to be there for your teammates. Green will be more available if he can embrace this principle for the rest of the season — and for the duration of his contract. The Warriors would benefit from posting signs with these eight words throughout Chase Center, from the practice field and weight room to the locker room and gym.
Given the timing and circumstances, and their 8-9 record, could there be a more appropriate rallying cry?
Green’s return Tuesday in Sacramento is, on paper, a chance for the Warriors to reset. They have lost seven of nine, and he has been ejected early or completely unavailable for five of those losses.
While Green was suspended, Klay Thompson’s shooting efficiency took a big jump and Andrew Wiggins had his first 30-point game, and Golden State’s 118.7 defensive rating over those five games ranked 21st among the 30 teams during that span.
“Our defense improves dramatically right away with Draymond,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We know that.
“Then it’s about finding the right combinations within the game. Finding combinations that are in rhythm and click. We’re looking for the best two-man version for our team.”
Although the Warriors could unearth successful combinations without Green, there’s no doubt he’s included in the best two-way version they can put together. The Warriors don’t know their potential without Green, but they know it’s limited. The potential he has, assuming good health throughout the roster, is the only way to determine their ceiling.
Which brings us back to behavior modification. The Warriors have no desire for Green to become a weak drone – as if! – But he limits his enormous energy to basketball matters. Get the bounce and go. Screaming after a great defensive play. Defend all five opponents in one 24-second possession. Bark, if you must, in a questionable whistle.
But don’t let another blowout force the NBA front office to pry him away from a team that needs him.
“Draymond has to find a way not to cross the line,” Kerr said. “I’m not talking about getting sent off or getting a technical (foul). I’m talking about a physical act of violence. This is unforgivable.”
Green had enough conversations with his old friend Joe Dumars, who is also the league’s chief disciplinary officer, to know that further misconduct would lead to harsher penalties.
His mission is to understand the difference between the intensely competitive behavior that makes him a great player, and the behavior that qualifies him as brutal, and therefore unavailable.
“They made it clear they were going to hold everything I did before against me,” Green said of the NBA. “And that’s OK. I need to adapt where I see fit, where my teammates see fit, where my coach sees fit, where our front office sees fit — people that I care about, that I trust. When I hear them say something, it means something to me. And that’s all People (at Chase) who go through this grind every day.
The Warriors – players, coaches and executives – have had their say. They want green back. They’ll get it on Tuesday. And this time, realizing they are a marginal team without him, they would like to keep him.
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