Before the start of the postseason, Draymond Green was considered to be the favorite to win the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year award. Steve Kerr pointed out back in February that Green was the engine that made it all work.
"He's the key figure," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told NBA.com in February,"because as the power forward, he's frequently involved in screen-and-rolls. And because he's quick enough and active enough to switch out onto a point guard, we're able to stifle a lot of the first options out of the opponent's attacks. And when that happens and the shot clock starts to wind down, we're able to stay in front of people and force a tough shot."
As I mentioned several days ago, the Pelicans needed to find a way to break up the combination of Andrew Bogut and Green after Game 1 because they seriously stunted the New Orleans offensive game plan. However, now, there are numerous opinions running wild that are insinuating Green has become some kind of Davis-stopper.
After 2 games, Anthony Davis: VS. DRAYMOND GREEN 18 points 6-18 FGs 4 turnovers AWAY FROM GREEN 43 points 16-27 FGs 3 turnovers— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) April 22, 2015
Does the evidence really bare this out?
A look under the hood
In the statistics from Game 1, the SportVU Postgame Report didn't have anything out of the ordinary -- Davis topped 50% from the field.
Thus, let's have a look at all Davis' shot attempts against Green in Game 2.
- At the 8:24 mark of the first quarter, Davis misses an out of character, off-balanced jumper against Green. It's as though AD figured Green might bite on the pass fake back out to Tyreke Evans?
- At the 6:40 mark of the first quarter, Davis blows by Green from the perimeter and misses an open dunk.
- At the 4:52 mark of the first quarter, Davis rises up on a jumper after Green takes a step (probably remembering the last blow-by), but misses on what is normally a dependable and good shot.
- At the 0:32 mark of the first quarter, Davis misses a difficult lay-in against Green who defended the shot well vertically.
- At the 5:37 mark of the second quarter, Davis makes a difficult turnaround jump hook against Green.
- At the 5:02 mark of the second quarter, Davis misses an open step-back jumper after he got Green on his heels.
- At the 0:39 mark of the third quarter, Davis beat Green going left again for a made lay-in.
- At the 4:04 mark of the fourth quarter, Davis threw up a wild miss attempting to draw the foul on a runner.
- At the 3:13 mark of the fourth quarter, Davis missed another runner, this time in Green's face.
- At the 0:53 mark of the fourth quarter, Davis missed on a quick spinning lay-in, looking for another foul call.
Outside of these official shot attempts, there were a number of other plays that involved Draymond.
- At the 4:28 mark of the second quarter, Davis ran Green off a screen on an out of bounds play that led to an easy score.
- Just a minute later, he missed a short jumper at the 3:13 mark after losing Green again, after he tried to flop his way against an Omer Asik screen.
- At the 2:36 mark of the third quarter, Green was still guarding Davis, but because he gave him oodles of room in the paint, Iguodala gets credit for Davis' make as he offered resistance first.
In addition, early in the 4th quarter, Davis drew successive trips to the line against Green (HERE and HERE). Immediately, Kerr removed Draymond from the game, not because of foul trouble (he had just 3 fouls), but due to the fact needed to get a breather as he hadn't sat since halftime.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, Davis was not be afforded the same luxury. He had to slog through for the entire second half because Monty Williams had no other options. Ryan Anderson was frigidly cold, Evans was hobbled, Quincy Pondexter had been off all night and Jrue Holiday was a spectator. So, it shouldn't have been a surprise that a fresher Green, in conjunction with a gassed Davis, led to three straight misses in the final four minutes of the game.
During their era, Joe Dumars was the proclaimed Michael Jordan-stopper. MJ even admitted Dumars was the best defender he'd ever encountered, but in reality, the numbers show he barely made a difference.
Jordan played 52 games (not counting the Wizards years, when Dumars had already retired) against the Pistons in the Dumars era, averaging 30.3 points per game on 47 percent shooting. Compare that to his career averages (again, non-Wizards ... I like to pretend those two years never happened) of 31.5 points per game on 51 percent shooting.
Please, don't take this article the wrong way. Draymond Green is a wonderful defender, and at times, he has slowed down Anthony Davis in this series. I'd LOVE for New Orleans to pry him away to the Crescent City this coming off-season.
However, if I'm asked to be real, I can only give Green credit for 2 of AD's 8 misses (8:24 of 1st, 0:32 of 1st). Everything else fell into two other categories: Green didn't influence AD's miss and tired legs / mental fatigue cannot be overlooked.
After watching practically all his 2455 minutes during the regular season, Davis missed a lot of shots he normally makes in Game 2. Per the player tracking data, he missed 4 of his 6 uncontested looks in the game. This, combined with playing an abnormal amount of minutes, led Davis to officially shoot just 2-10 from the floor against Green. In Game 1, he was 5-9.
Over the course of his 68 regular season games, Davis showed little trouble against any specific defender. Are we really going to succumb to small sample size theatre, ignoring relevant extenuating circumstances?
If so, that's fine. Anthony Davis has shown in the past how he positively reacts to bulletin board material.