Draymond Green returned to the Warriors to help them fulfill his championship guarantee, of course.
Also to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Green, via Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“I don’t know what league everybody else has been watching, but I have not seen anyone solidify themselves as Defensive Player of the Year,” Green said. “Unless you’re just going by, ‘Oh, this guy played this amount of games and their team had this record.’ Great. Yeah, you may come up with a guy. When I look around the league, Mikal Bridges has been really good defensively and Jaren Jackson has picked it up defensively.
“But yeah, I don’t think anyone has solidified themselves. And I think we can all agree, through 34 games, it was already solidified.”
Conspicuously not mentioned: Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the clear Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner and someone Green has traded barbs with.
The 2022 Defensive Player of the Year race is fairly uninspiring. Gobert, the winner three of the last four years, hasn’t been quite as impactful this season. He has missed 15 games, too. Nobody else has stepped up as a clear choice.
Green has been the NBA’s top defender – by far – when on the court this season. But he has missed 34 games (35 if you count his cameo in Klay Thompson‘s return game).
Gobert has played 77% more minutes than Green. Giannis Antetokounmpo 84% more. Jackson 81% more. Bridges 129% more. Even Bam Adebayo has played 41% more.
As well as Green has defended when on the court, it’s tough to match the overall defensive impact – how I judge players for awards – when playing so little.
Really, Green belongs as an All-Defensive second-team candidate – maybe even first team, depending how he plays down the stretch. That’s a heck of a compliment considering how much time he has missed. Few players could compete for that honor without playing more. But Green has been that good when the court.
Even if it almost certainly won’t get him the award he wants.