Draymond Green presents an excellent case for the Basketball Hall of Fame. The loudmouth defensive maestro for the Golden State Warriors has had a sterling career going back to his high school days at Saginaw High School. Green has taken an unconventional path, but he has earned his place among the greats in the league today.
Green is probably best known for being the defensive catalyst for the Golden State Warriors during their 5-year reign at the top of the league. During that time, he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2017, earned four First Team All-Defensive team selections, and was named to 3 All-Star teams.
His prowess on that side of the ball was not as critical to the Warriors’ success as Steph Curry’s insane shooting, but his uniqueness was vital for their 3 NBA titles, the crown jewel of NBA accomplishments.
Green is not a one-dimensional defensive force. He isn’t just a lockdown defender or paint protector like other players Green is a Swiss Army Knife on that side of the ball, capable of battling against the likes of Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis or switching onto wings and guards to neutralize them.
The way that an elite middle linebacker or safety can direct a defense unit in the NFL, Draymond does so in basketball in a way that has yet to truly be replicated. Nevertheless, teams have persisted in their search for “the next Draymond” with little success.
In my lifetime there are probably 2 other players capable of doing with Draymond has on defense: LeBron James and Kevin Garnett. Without Draymond, the Warriors probably plateau as a 2nd round playoff team on average. He is the difference between championships and what a team like the Blazers have managed to accomplish during that same timeframe.
While most of Green’s value is seen on defense, he’s not a slouch on offense. He is a point forward in the truest sense of the word. His understanding of the game and court vision enables him to create a bevy of opportunities for the Warriors’ offense.
His ability to push the ball off of a miss has opened up a slew of transition threes for the Warriors as well. Again, it’s hard to imagine the Warriors transforming basketball without him taking on a playmaking role. Steph Curry’s off-ball prowess would be wasted with a guy like Green getting him the ball in his spots.
While Green’s counting stats have never jumped off out (for good reasons anyway), his best season helped the Warriors set an NBA record for wins. Green also likely wins MVP of the 2016 NBA Finals if the Warriors found a way to win game 7; he put up a dazzling 32-15-9 stat line in the biggest game of his career at the time.
As this is the Basketball Hall of Fame, Green’s collegiate success at Michigan State would also burnish his case for induction. Green was a former All-American, All-Conference, and Defensive Player of the Year while playing in East Lansing. In his final season, Green won the Big 10 Tournament MVP and was named the National Player of the Year by the Nation Association of Basketball Coaches.
He only averaged 10.5 PTS and 7.6 REBS during his 4-year career, but he averaged a double-double in his senior year with 16.2 PTS and 10.6 REBs for a squad that went 29-8 and earned a #1 seed. That particular team was not blessed with future NBA stars either, but Green’s leadership lifted them to the top of college basketball that season.
The final component of Green’s resume is his success in international competition. He has now been a member of two gold medal-winning teams as a key reserve. Green allows the USMNT to play a smaller, faster lineup while still offering resistance to bigger international teams.
Again, Green’s ability to guard more prominent players like Rudy Gobert and Marc Gasol makes him invaluable. His basketball IQ also translates seamlessly to international play, evidenced by his tip-off of the rim in the final minute of the US’s win over France in the Men’s Basketball Final.
Green is a one-of-kind player whose success transcends traditional counting stats. He’s elevated every team he’s been on to new heights and managed to win at the highest levels. That said, what makes Green such a difficult player to put in the Hall of Fame are his stats.
Quite frankly, the numbers are unimpressive: 8.8 PTS, 6.9 REBS, 5.3 ASTS for his career. While he carries tremendous responsibility on defense, he’s been a ho-hum offensive player at best, regularly getting more assists or rebounds than points these days. If he weren’t such a dog on defense, he would invite as much criticism as his Eastern Conference doppelganger (to the causals at least), Ben Simmons.
Another knock on Green is the HOF’s iffy record with recognizing role players. Robert Horry has 5 NBA titles, but it remains unlikely that Big Shot Bob will be invited to Springfield for his career exploits anytime soon. AC Green is another role player who enjoyed similar team success (3 NBA Championships with the Lakers) but nonetheless has not been elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s doubtful that Derek Fisher, a key cog for the Lakers 5 championships in the 2000s, will ever make the Hall of Fame for his playing career too.
The HOF may be opening up to allowing more role players to be enshrined. The Worm, Dennis Rodman, made it into the HOF back in 2011 after his contributions to the Pistons and Bulls championship teams. Lakers great Michael Cooper was nominated to be considered for the NBA Hall of Fame.
Former Philadelphia 76er and Denver Nuggets player Bobby Jones, a former 6th Man of the Year and 9-time All-Defensive First Team member, was inducted in 2019. These bode well for Draymond, who can still add to his resume and increase his chance of making it to Springfield.
Is Draymond Green a Hall of Famer? Yes, he has enjoyed enough individual and team success at every level of his career to merit enshrinement in the Hall. At the end of the day, these games are played to determine a winner, and there are few guys who contribute more to that effort than Green. It isn’t easy to look past the counting stats, but Green’s intangibles and contributions to those title-winning teams cannot overlooked.