Opportunity Knocks: Everybody Loves DraymondMay 7, 2015
By Eric Weiss and Kevin O'Connor
There are numerous psychological factors at play when it comes to finding the right “fit” and making it in the NBA. These become even more important for players who don't have the nine lives of their lottery land brethren. These factors are detailed – at length – in “Opportunity Knocks: How Situation Impacts Success.”
In 2012, Draymond Green slipped all the way to #35, despite plenty of pre-draft “buzz” that had him looking like a potential first round pick. Green was, unsurprisingly, impressive during his pre-draft interviews and his on-court growth and overall performance were well-regarded by media and scouts alike.
Despite this acclaim, Green fell victim to the standard talk-yourself-out-of-him evaluation that often happens to “low upside” upperclassmen, including here on DraftExpress: “Isn't quick or athletic … Too small to play power forward ... Too slow to defend small forwards.”
There is always someone younger and more explosive to be had in the draft and while these players have theoretically superior “upside,” the bottom line is that you typically end up with a fringe rotation player at best, particularly outside of the lottery.
With production being a crapshoot in this range, why not bank on the “upside” of a player with off-the-charts intangibles?
The Warriors did just that; and three years later, Green is the leader of the best team in the NBA and will almost undoubtedly land a contract offer close to or possibly at the “max” this summer in restricted free agency.
“You're the voice of this team,” league MVP Stephen Curry said during his award speech to Green, “Your voice and your spirit every single day, whether it's going well, whether you're making shots or missing shots, it doesn't matter, you're the same person and we can count on that every single night. That's what makes you who you are as a part of your story and your journey.”
Situation Factors: Individual Story & Anticipated Role
Green's story began as a top 100-RSCI high school recruit and two-time state champion from Saginaw, Michigan. After a rollercoaster recruiting ride
, Green ultimately landed at Michigan State, where everything worked out perfectly; he would become one of the greatest Spartans in the school's history, according to head coach Tom Izzo, who called him the “perfect Spartan”.
“Day-Day would exchange all of his points, rebounds and assists for wins,” Izzo told ESPN in 2012,
well before Green would become an NBA star. “A lot of people say that publicly, but they don't really feel that way. He feels it. There's not a question in my mind that Day-Day is all about winning.”
This is not surprising, considering that Green's greatest measurable traits are both his “Dominance”
, (88th percentile) and “Team Identity”
, (91st percentile) ratings. These categories are defined as “being attentive to others, unpretentious, assertive, uninhibited, and group-oriented.”
Out of over 900 players in the SA database, Green ranks fifth for being a “Rainmaker”
, a quality of many overachievers who have the natural ability to connect with others, gain their trust, and align their goals with those of the team. “Rainmakers”
are also defined by their “Internal Motivation”
, (91st percentile) but Green didn't enter college with that mindset.
"Early in his freshman year he wasn't practicing real hard,” Spartans assistant coach DJ Stephens told the Detroit Free Press. “So I had one of the managers go get a red practice jersey and bring it to (Green). I told him he was gonna wear it because we were going to redshirt him. I don't know if I ever saw him that angry."
Motivated, Green started working harder and smarter during the summer of his sophomore season to eventually become the Big Ten Player of the Year as a senior. No other player in the Sports Aptitude database rates out higher, collectively, in those three key categories
. There are a number of highly successful players in the league who were labeled as having “questionable work ethic” initially, but measured out well in “Internal Motivation.”
As is often the case, the situations these players were placed in had a negative impact on their understanding of what “hard work” truly required. Often times they've had high-level success and reached their competitive goals doing things their way.
The key for Green and all the others was being placed in a situation where they were faced with their own limitations and forced to adapt in order to live up to the expectations placed on them – “Rainmakers” thrive in such situations.
After four collegiate seasons, Green's progression was undeniable. Per Synergy Sports Technology
, after relying on pick-and-roll and cuts to score a bulk of his points as an underclassman, Green eventually flipped the script and saw his usage and production rise down on the block and behind the arc. Green
's dramatic points per possession increase on isolation plays are unheard of for his position.
Green came to school as a pudgy, undersized center and left as a ball handling, passing wizard and a 38% three-point shooter. As Jonathan Givony wrote in a 2011 scouting report, “there is not a more skilled and versatile power forward in the country, as Green can score, rebound, and pass the ball at an elite level on any given night.”
Still, Green's lack of a true position, uninspiring athleticism, and average lateral quickness was a problem, which is why it was “tough to project him as an adequate NBA defender.”
This helps describe why he wasn't a lottery pick, but it doesn't explain why he was only projected as a late-first or early-second round selection.
Situation Factors: Team Environment & Opportunity Given
Despite all the hours poured into the exhaustive pre-draft process, Green's tantalizing psychological profile gave way to a litany of players who had safer positional projections, athleticism, and youth. No one could've expected him to become the star that he is today, but in college he maximized his production by dramatically improving on all his weaknesses to become one of the NCAA's best all-around players, and his progression in the pros has virtually mirrored that story.
"I hate to say this, but the intangibles he brings to your team can't be measured," Warriors assistant head coach Alvin Gentry said to the Free Press. "The guy really is a coach's dream. You can't place a value on that. Use every cliché you can. His teams always win. The squad you put him on in a scrimmage, his team is going to win."
Contrary to the above sentiment, Green rated as the #1 profile of his draft class, in terms of his measurable personality traits
. There is no replacement for physical ability, but the best players from pick #20 and on almost all slot according to their measurable “intangibles” when doing a re-draft.
Green entered the NBA knowing he'd have to fight for a role, and he did just that by taking advantage of his most exceptional qualities. Like many second round picks, Green's greatest opportunity to gain a foothold on his team would be by building relationships and gaining “champions” for his cause among the more established players.
This is second nature for a player who is 42% more “Direct”
, 36% “Warmer”
, and 25% more “Group-Oriented”
than the average NBA player. Simply put, Green puts tremendous stock in how he is perceived by those around him.
However, this by itself isn't enough, as there are many players who focus too much on the social side of the NBA lifestyle and forget about the work that needs to be done. Green was fortunate that the Warriors had a solid organizational direction that would provide continuity and the opportunity to make a mark.
When Brandon Rush
and Richard Jefferson
got injured during his rookie year, he stepped in and filled the void without looking back. And for a team looking for more defensive tenacity, David Lee
's injury opened the door for Green to carve out a feature role on the NBA's best team.
This is where Green's “killer instinct” helped him take advantage of opportunity when it presented itself, while garnering the support necessary to grow beyond the bounds of that initial role.
Green is labeled as a “Bold/Combative”
competitor in the SA classification system. This category is filled with some of the best and brightest in the NBA. Green ranks in the 94th percentile in this category, 26% higher than the average player. These types of ratings can lead to issues for players lacking the charisma and empathy for others that Green possesses. The combination of the two, however, is a recipe for success.
Despite being such a young player, Green quickly became the vocal leader of the Warriors after his former head coach Marc Jackson encouraged him to pursue the role
. But Green may not have needed the push, because he is who he is: the tone-setter of his locker room, both on and off the court, the player who establishes the culture.
Green is the opposite of a “mixer,”
he is the one who speaks his mind and holds others accountable, while doing it in a fair, political way. The Warriors, a team filled with more lead-by-example types, needed this socially bold, dominant personality to lead them, and he has.
The average Player Efficiency Rating for picks #21 to #40 is 11.9
, with only a slight drop in average PER as the draft slips into he second round. That level of production is hardly worth “swinging for the fences” when you have a player with Green's otherworldly observable and measurable personality characteristics sitting in your lap. A culture-setting personality and a plan of action is never a bad starting point when you are looking for the true “high upside” gems in the land of the 20% hit rate.
Historically, players with Green's range of personality attributes almost always find success, though not always with the team's they start off with. Like most highly competitive players, Green needed a situation that would place a level of expectation on him and provide a path to opportunity.
Green also benefited by building relationships with players who had the “right stuff” to become “winners” in an organization that was heading in the right direction. If he had gone to a team with a turnstile roster and little clarity on where they were going, Green's best qualities could have laid dormant for years. Fortunately for both Draymond Green
and the Golden State Warriors, that wasn't the case.
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Trending Prospects (12/22/2011)December 22, 2011
Michigan State had some question marks going into this season, lacking consistency at the point guard position and in the post. At an impressive 10-2, however, things are clearly working out better than expected and senior forward Draymond Green
is playing a heavy role in that. There is not a more skilled and versatile power forward in the country, as Green can score, rebound, and pass the ball at an elite level on any given night.
While Green is clearly very productive at the NCAA level, projecting him in the NBA isn't a seamless endeavor, primarily due to his average physical tools and tweener status. Listed at a generous 6'7 and 230-pounds with long arms, Green is very undersized for the power forward position. He is not a particularly explosive athlete either, lacking ideal quickness and leaping ability, despite being highly coordinated and mobile. While he has made impressive strides slimming down his frame, further improving his body and maximizing his athleticism would help his case significantly.
On the offensive end, Green's deficiencies with his back-to-the-basket and off of the dribble are well known. Though he is averaging a career high 15.9 points per game, he continues to struggle as a finisher, making just 47% of his attempts inside the arc and 32.4% from beyond.
That being said, his most NBA-ready offensive attribute is his jump shot. Green continues to display the shooting touch that he displayed as a junior, making over one 3-pointer per game. While his slow, flat-footed release and inconsistent percentages leave something to be desired, when given a chance to set his feet and get a clean shot off, he shows enough potential to lead you to believe he could develop into a solid floor spacer in time. As Green is often Michigan State's de facto point guard in lieu of consistency elsewhere in the rotation, it remains to be seen if his lower senior shooting numbers are a result of ideal playmakers around him. His career high 75% from the foul line and excellent showing against Gonzaga (where he made 4-5 attempts), leaves some reason for optimism in this regard.
One area where Green continues to excel is with his passing. Though his assist/turnover ratio is less impressive this year as in the past, watching him facilitate the offense in transition, out of the low post, and even as the team's traditional point guard in half court sets is remarkable. So, too, is his ability to seemingly seamlessly adjust to new personnel. Though Michigan State fields a very inexperienced roster without much initial chemistry, Green, in particular, has an uncanny ability to get his teammates the ball in ideal positions to score. NBA decision makers will like the versatility he displays as a shooter and passer, not to mention his above average ball-handling skills and basketball IQ, considering his potential as a stretch-power forward off the bench.
Unfortunately, Green's defensive deficiencies have become even more pronounced as a senior. At 6'7, he is too small to guard elite post players, and lacks the lateral quickness to defend perimeter players, even face-up power forwards at the NCAA level. While his effort and aggressiveness will never be questioned, it is difficult to project him as an adequate NBA defender at this time.
Still, he continues to be a rebound the ball at an excellent rate, even against top competition as evidenced by his 18-rebound effort against North Carolina's NBA-caliber frontcourt. His 12.1 rebounds per-40 are a career-high, and at just 6'7, he is grabbing 25% of his team's total defensive rebounds. His soft hands and nose for the ball help him here, but his aggressiveness, in particular is on full display on the glass.
When describing Green's potential at the next level, his rebounding, 3-point shooting and elite passing ability are certainly intriguing. He also brings a host of intangibles to the table, however, from his reputation as a good teammate to his consistently high IQ brand of basketball that may make his deficiencies less glaring in a spot-role.
While Green certainly doesn't look the part of an NBA player, there is no doubt that he possesses a variety of skills that at the very least will put him in consideration to be drafted or earn a NBA roster spot.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Big Ten, Part Four (#16-20) September 10, 2010
A player with one of the most unique skill-sets in the NCAA, Michigan State's Draymond Green is a collegiate center with the height of a small forward, the passing skills of a point guard, the rebounding tenacity of a power forward and the scoring repertoire of an old school pivot.
From a physical standpoint, Green is a below average prospect at best, as he's severely undersized with underwhelming athleticism and struggles at times with his conditioning due to his hefty frame. He gets his shot blocked quite a bit around the basket, is often the last one making his way up the court in transition, and can look quite winded at times, which hampers him defensively and can get him in foul trouble.
Green's best attributes clearly revolve around his phenomenal basketball IQ and overall versatility, as he's clearly an integral part of Michigan State's game-plan. Quite a bit of their offense goes through him at the elbow, where he can make strong decisions with the ball in his hands and is a threat to beat his opposition with either his jump-shooting ability, his driving skills, or especially with his passing.
Green is one of the best passing big men in all of college basketball, sporting an assist to turnover ratio that most point guards would envy at nearly 2/1, and averaging nearly 5 assists per-40, which is simply phenomenal.
Also an improving jump-shooter, Green showed significant improvement this past season in his ability to spread the floor, out to about 17-18 feet. The next step for him will be to expand his range out to the 3-point line, as it's clear that he will struggle to finish quite as efficiently around the basket in the NBA due to his lack of size and explosiveness.
Green has nimble feet and makes quick, strong, decisions with the ball in his hands, showing a very good left-handed drive he likes to mix in, often after a shot-fake. His ball-handling skills are very good for a big man, and Michigan State at times calls upon him to help break the opposition's full-court press, something he's capable of doing. He can also do some damage with his back to the basket, although it's not quite clear how well this part of his game will translate to the next level considering his lack of size.
Defensively, Green has some very good things going for him—mainly his terrific timing and soft hands, things that allow him to contribute significantly in terms of making plays on the court and getting his team extra possessions. He's an excellent rebounder (12.3 per-40p), particularly on the defensive end, and gets quite a few blocks (1.5 per-40p) and steals (1.9 per-40p) thanks to his ability to anticipate with his terrific feel for the game.
Unfortunately, Green's physical limitations make it quite difficult to project him as being anything more than a liability on this end of the floor in the NBA. His lack of size means he's quite easy to post up and just shoot over the top of even at the NCAA level, and his poor lateral quickness makes it tough to envision him being able to guard most power forwards on the perimeter or even less likely small forwards, which his height suggests he'd have to. This will be a major hurdle for Green to overcome, and it's not quite clear whether a NBA team will be able to get past this issue, despite what he contributes in various other facets of the game.
Regardless, Green projects as an excellent pro prospect who should be able to make a solid living at a high level in Europe, where he can continue to play his natural position at the 4/5. If he can find a way to continue to improve his shooting range and show better defensive versatility than we're giving him credit for, he could possibly make a stronger case for himself for the NBA.
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