It's not a shocking revelation that Draymond Green is much less effective without superstars around him. It's jarring, however, just how pedestrian he is. The Warriors had dominated the NBA over the last half-decade. They marched to five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, and may have taken home a ring for each finger had they not choked 2016 vs. the Cavs and been riddled with injuries in June against the Raptors.
When Kevin Durant left, Klay Thompson rehabbed his injury, and Steph Curry went out with a broken hand, most expected a rocky season by the Bay. But this has been the absolute worst case scenario. They are by a wide margin the worst team in the league. The trade for Andrew Wiggins and picks could end up being very smart by the front office, but the first year in a new building has been a disaster. At 12-47, plus a butt-kicking by the Lakers on Thursday, Golden State has been looking toward to the draft for months now.
Should it be this bad? No doubt when you suit up Damion Lee and Jordan Poole in your starting five it's a thin roster. But this is also a reckoning for the loud-mouthed Draymond. Over the last five years as the Warriors have beaten everyone, shimmied and danced in opponents' faces, Green has been the tough guy. He's kicked and yelled and taunted. He's played the super villain. He's at times been dazzling as well, leading the fast break, whizzing down court like a box truck at 80 mph.
This year, it's been the opposite. Good players on bad teams still get stats. There's plenty of possessions and scoring in the modern NBA even if you lose 65 games. Green isn’t even in the top 150 in Player Efficiency Rating. Javonte Green and Nicolo Melli have a higher PER. There are 180 players this season averaging more points per game than Dray, including Alex Len, Jordan Poole, De’Anthony Melton and Josh Okogie. With a lackluster group around him, there's at least effort on the rebounding side he can give. Yet among power forwards he isn’t even top 50 in boards.
There was concern last year that a career filled with bumping and grinding, a player that worked himself into a starter and handed nothing, was already slowing down. But he sizzled in the playoffs, helping propel a gassed Warriors team through another long summer run. If there were questions about giving him money before his impending free agency, they became moot when Durant left. Golden State had a sparkling new arena and didn't want to fall back into the bad old days. They gave Thompson and Green plenty of cash. Starting next year, Green will make $100 million over four seasons.
This can't be the Green the Dubs’ front office thought they were getting. How effective will he be 3-4 years from now if this is how invisible he already is? His supposed leadership and toughness aren't equating to wins. With him in the lineup, the Warriors are 10-33. Draymond has won two games in the last two months. Even the miserable Cavaliers have won three times in the last week. Over his career, Golden State has won 73 percent of its games with Draymond, but what we're seeing is he clearly needs all of the other pieces around him. Those pieces happen to be one of the most talented rosters ever assembled.
It's either that or the alternative, that Green is just old. That part seems slightly preposterous, though, considering he hasn't even turned 30 (he will next week). Can a body like Green's, never a monument to health, already be ineffective in his late 20s? Perhaps. And if that's the case, that contract looks even worse. When the prospect was Green and Curry co-leading the Warriors this year, being a playoff contender was not even a question. Without Curry, the Warriors are left as the worst team in the NBA. Is that the chasm between Curry and Green? Or was that simply the reality of Draymond all along? Green played it tough and loud when he had the best supporting roster in league history, but alone he's left barking like a lonely dog at the pound.