Legs flaying, trash talking, dirty playing, cheap-shot taking - It has never been easier to hate Draymond Green.... and while he is perceived as the league villain - Draymond Green is in fact a genius.
Everyone will try to debate the intentions behind his on-court antics and whether or not he is a reincarnation of Bill Laimbeer, but what these people fail to see is that Draymond is actually taking the attention and pressure off of his heavily scrutinised teammates.
Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are under an intense microscope as they seek to coexist and build an NBA dynasty together. Both are the leagues most current MVP's and both carry the same amount of unprecedented pressure to make this marriage work.
We are already a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 season and Golden State have already been greatly criticised for their losses and defensive shortcomings, despite having the best record in the NBA (18-3).
Klay Thompson has been on the front-line of this criticism all season long as he struggles to find his place as the “third wheel”, particularly after his early-season shooting struggles. Trade rumours have been whirling and the pressure has been mounting on Thompson on a nightly basis. Mind you, Klay has a history of slow season starts in the NBA but this year is different with the addition of Durant and the expectations that come with that.
Without Draymond Green drawing away the negative focus from Klay, the scrutiny might have been incapacitating for him (cos this is a man's league). For the first time in his career, he is shooting below 40 percent behind the arc with a 20 point per game scoring average. Incredibly, he increased his average to 22.5 points after his ridiculous 60 point outburst against a dishevelled Pacers team who tried anything and everything to stop him.
As well as diverting pressure, Green is helping the Warriors avoid the unwanted label of being “soft” and just a bunch of nice guys, cos lets be honest - If it wasn't for Dray, the Warriors would be Cheez TV.
Green gives Golden State an extra layer. Now, you can’t call it toughness because it’s definitely coming at a cheap price. But, he’s adding a layer of roughness that gets under opponents’ skins. However, lets focus on Green's ability to play a fundamental brand basketball. Besides being a front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year award, he is averaging 10.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks while dishing out 7.5 assists per game.
Green isn’t the first – nor will he be the last – to be lambasted for his on and off the court capers. Accused of being a “dirty” player, Bruce Bowen made a living out of questionable play and rough defense with the San Antonio Spurs who weren’t perceived as the toughest team either. Similarly, their big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were skilled players with finesse. Bowen was blamed for encroaching players’ landing spaces and kicking. One way or another, it earned him three NBA titles with the Spurs.
Green is taking plenty of heat for the Warriors... whether it be with some outlandish statement to reporters for them to focus on him rather than his teammates, or something about natural movements, or even trash talking Iman Shumpert and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Draymond Green is a (mad as hell) genius and you can't deny it. Whether it’s inadvertent or not, that’s another matter.
Written by Joel Moss