OAKLAND — “He is undersized as a power forward and doesn’t have a game that makes him a three.”
That is a draft night critique of Draymond Green from us at PBT, and while we praised getting Green in the second round that comment fit the thinking when he was drafted — that he was a tweener who might not have a natural fit in the NBA.
“They said that. Who would he guard? Ironic,” Green said Saturday before Game 2 of the Finals, when he will spend some time guarding LeBron James. “Who is he? What does he do? Ironic. That’s what they said, (Charles) Barkley still say that sometimes, other people still writing it sometimes. Maybe they’ll stop writing it one day, maybe they won’t. It is what it is at this point.”
Today we praise the versatility of the Golden State Warriors, a team that starts four guys in the same size range, which allows them to switch nearly every pick. That versatility is key to their offense as well as nearly everyone can shoot threes or put the ball on the floor.
The Warriors didn’t want players who fit into conventional molds, they wanted to shatter the mold.
Remember that when we head into the draft in a few weeks and you read comments questioning where players fit.
Remember when Stephen Curry came into the league and there were a lot of questions about whether he could really be a point guard in the NBA, if he was really just going to be an undersized two guard who couldn’t create his own shot.
To quote Green, ironic.
There were questions about Klay Thompson, is he a two or a three? The concern with him was he was not going to be athletic enough to be a good defender.
“It goes on and on like that down the Warriors roster. There were enough questions about Harrison Barnes he was taken behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson.
“Coming through the draft, GMs and scouts asked me that, ‘What position do you play?’ And I tell them this answer: ‘I’m a basketball player,’” Green said. “Don’t sit here and tell me I’m a three, then you take away the things I can do at the four. Don’t tell me II’m a four and take away the things I do as a three. I’m a basketball player, you put me on the court and I’ll figure out a way to get it done.”
Steve Kerr and Curry will brush off those kinds of comments about the makeup of their team, or the old trope about how a jump shooting team can’t win the NBA title (didn’t the 2011 Dallas Mavericks already dispel that myth?).
“Most people brush it off,” Green said. “I laugh at it, but I always keep it right there in the back of the mind….
“That’s what my whole career has been fueled off of. Somebody saying what you can’t do, what I can’t do. So when I hear stuff like that saying what we can’t dp It just put me right back in that mindset that helped me get here.”
Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry said you have to praise Warriors GM Bob Meyers for having the vision to see past positions to put together that kind of versatile team. One that can throw a lot of different looks at you.
That goes all the way down to ball handling where guys like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston come into play, Green notes.
“I think that’s one of the neat things about our team, you’ve got different ball handlers to change the pace of the game — and on any possession. It’s not like you got to sit Steph to play Shaun, or sit Shawn to play Dre. You can play all of them together. It’s a constant change of pace thing, it gives the defense a different look every time.”
It’s also how the Warriors defend the game’s best player.
“They mixed it up…” LeBron said of the Warriors defense. “Sometimes they didn’t dig in the post. Sometimes they let me play one-on-one. Sometimes (Andrew) Bogut was over on the tilt and brought two defenders. They switched sometimes on pick-and-rolls. Sometimes they went under.
“So they were giving me everything. They’re not just giving me one steady dosage of we’re going to just let him play. No. That’s what they want to get out to you guys, but that’s not what’s happening. Yeah, I see it all throughout the course of the game. They’ve given me different matchups, just trying to keep me off balance.”
Versatility is one of the foundations on which the Warriors are built — they wanted guys who could do a lot of different things on the court. They didn’t want to fit the mold, they wanted to break it.
And it’s on the cusp of getting them an NBA title.
Just remember that when someone pans your team’s draft pick as a “tweener” in a couple weeks.