Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the Golden State Warriors’ best players, but Draymond Green plays an indispensable role, even if it doesn’t come in the form of 40-point games.
In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, for example, Green had 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in a 96-88 win – all while playing high-energy defense for 40 minutes and taking the ball coast-to-coast in transition. He’s a vital piece for a Warriors team trying to repeat as NBA champions.
But can he compose himself against the Cavaliers? After all, he is just two technical fouls away from a one-game suspension.
“Draymond is from Saginaw and they call it Sag-Nasty,” Warriors TV play-by-play announcer Bob Fitzgerald said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench, putting Green’s background in context. “The Warriors are a quiet team. Bogut’s quiet, Iguodala’s quiet, Klay and Steph are pretty quiet. Draymond is the voice. He’s the dog. He calls himself the dog. He is heart over height. He has been doubted to the point where they win at Michigan State, he’s not even a first-round pick, (and people said) he’s always going to be a role player (and that) he’s undersized. Then he’s second in Defensive Player of the Year, make an All-Star, make an All-NBA team – he’s ready to fight the world. But the fight you don’t win are the technicals with the officials or flagrant fouls with the league. So you’re right: He’s on the verge of being suspended.
“So I think keeping the emotions under control while still playing with that fire (is important),” Fitzgerald continued. “What Steph and Klay and Steve Kerr will tell him is, ‘We just need you. You can’t get that flagrant or that T and miss a game. That could cost us the series.’ The issue, though, is you got Mozgov and Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love and LeBron and the whole bit. You could get a flagrant and not be trying to. Just commit a super hard foul and an official deems it a flagrant 1 and you’re suspended for the next game. He’s put himself in that dangerous position and that sucks. That’s just not good. Draymond, his fire makes him good, but he also can get burned by that fire.”
Fitzgerald compared Green to Rasheed Wallace, who, for a long time, played the official game. Wallace got a lot of technical fouls, and then he wound up getting some he probably didn’t deserve. When he got to Detroit, though, Larry Brown was able to harness the veteran’s emotions.
“You saw what a brilliant player Rasheed Wallace really was and he helped them win a championship,” Fitzgerald said. “I think if anything out of this year, what Draymond will figure out is you can’t win the officiating game. You really can’t. Play as hard as you want, and if a guy’s shooting free throws, that’s when you saddle up to the ref. ‘Did you get that? Did I really foul him? Are you sure you go that right?’ These guys are human. They don’t want to be yelled at, and the don’t want to be yelled at publicly. So there’s a way to play that game. Draymond is still a work in progress. He’s an All-Star player and a huge part of this championship run. For him, there’s still room to grow, and the best thing I’d say about him is he always comes back to who he is. He’s got a great heart, he’s there for the community, for the teammates, for the fans, for kids. At his core, he’s got a great, great heart.”