But nobody was more instrumental to Golden State’s playing style – especially the “death lineup” – during its dynasty than Green.
His combination of offensive and defensive abilities was so special.
When most teams go small, they sacrifice defense (particularly paint protection) for offense. Green ensured the Warriors didn’t have to make that tradeoff.
He was an elite defender. Most crucially, he protected the paint. Opposing bigs didn’t hold a matchup advantage inside despite Green being just 6-foot-6.
Green also brought the skills commensurate with a player his size. He could handle the ball, pass and shoot. That allowed Golden State to play fast and spread the floor, challenging opposing defenses to keep up.
But a key piece of the package went missing in recent years. After establishing himself as a decent 3-point shooter – and peaking as actually good from beyond the arc – Green lost his long-range touch. His 3-point percentage by season (regular season and playoffs combined):
- 2012-13: 26%
- 2013-14: 32%
- 2014-15: 32%
- 2015-16: 38%
- 2016-17: 33%
- 2017-18: 29%
- 2018-19: 27%
- 2019-20: 28%
Green no longer attracts the same attention beyond the arc, hindering the Warriors’ spacing. At times, he doesn’t even look at the basket while left open with the ball on the perimeter.
On “All The Smoke,” Green looked back on Golden State’s sweep of the Cavaliers in 2018 NBA Finals:
The next day, I couldn’t really walk. If we didn’t sweep, I don’t know if I would have been able to play in Game 5. And then the day after that, I couldn’t move at all. I got to the point where I was sitting on the couch with my leg opened up.
And I ended up getting my hips checked out and stuff, and there was some issue. So, I had to re-correct that. I had to re-strengthen my core, which is something I never even really knew. So, I had to do all this re-strengthening.
In turn, in doing all of that, it kind of changed my shot, because it changed the way I lift up and all of this s—. So, I’ve been working on re-strengthening that and getting my 3-pointer back. If I can get that back to above 36 percent, possibly shoot 40 percent, which I know I’m more than capable of, the league is in trouble again if I can do that. So, that’s my goal.
Green is now on the wrong side of 30. It won’t be easy for him to regain his athleticism and shooting stroke.
But Green also slipped to the second round of the draft amid similar concerns. They weren’t totally off base (though still significantly off base). After entering the NBA, Green showed a work ethic to transform his body and shot, making himself more athletic and efficient. He can still apply that drive now.