David Lee broke it down simply. Lee told second-year forward Draymond Green he wasn’t doing his job if Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights and even Lee himself wasn’t mad at him every few days.
Green’s response? Duh.
“That was already my plan anyway,” Green said, flashing his bright, devious smile. “So I didn’t need him to tell me.”
If Green has something to say about it, the Warriors won’t have a problem with complacency. Whatever success they have won’t soften them, nor will accolades cause them to
Because as soon as they get to practice, they will have to deal with Green. He’s loud. He’s tough. He’s versatile in his skill. Most important, he relishes the role of providing the checks and balances on the court.
“I don’t care who you are or what you do, I’m going to go at you,” he said after Friday’s practice. “I may not be the one guarding you but I’m going to say something. You can always do more. I feel like the sky is the limit for this team so there is always more that can be done. You may have had 30 yesterday. But you come into practice today and I’m getting after you. If it’s D-Lee or whoever it is, I’mma get at you.”
Green said he knows his role is to stir things up and to challenge the starters. Having reserves like Toney Douglas, Jermaine O’Neal and Marreese Speights with him has only bolstered Green’s audacity.
His playoff performance didn’t hurt either.
Certainly, Green takes pride in his role, but he is probably most driven by a raging confidence. Green has no doubt he is a beast on the court capable of playing with anyone. He certainly has skill and heart to go with a certain knack for winning. In his mind, all he needs is the opportunity.
That’s why you saw him, barely a sip into his career, jawing at LeBron James last season. That’s why he was able to make big plays in the postseason and trading barbs with Denver coach George Karl.
Green is already a star. The rest of you just need to be made aware. And those who said he wasn’t athletic enough to thrive at Michigan State, that his shooting wasn’t good enough to make it in the pros, they’re going to hear a little bit after he shows you.
But what makes Green effective is his last laugh is victory. Winning is what he does, who is he. You may jump higher, run faster, shoot better, dribble smoother, play more graceful. But Green measures his success in wins.
That means, whether he beats you by scoring 20 or by setting hard screens, he won. And you’re going to hear about it.
“I’ve always been that way,” Green said. “I feel like I can play with anyone. But at the end of the day, I’m not an idiot. You have to know your role. That’s one of the reasons you see some guys who are really good but they end up out of the league real quick — because they can’t play a role. … I feel like there are some things I can do that, in a situation like this, I may not get to show it. That’s the nature of it. But I’ve always been a firm believer that if you do the right things, the things that you need to show will eventually be shown. … At the end of the day, its about contributing and doing whatever I can to help the team win.”
Green admitted it can be tough to balance, the feeling that you’re just as good as the guy ahead of you with your desire to excel at your given role. But the ability to balance them is why his teammates and coaches love him.
Green already knows he won’t get the big minutes or the volume of shots, so he upholds his reputation for winning in the little things. But when he does get the big minutes or the big shots, he produces because he already feels like that’s where he belongs.
He didn’t work on his jumper all summer, get in the best shape of his life, so he can play 13 minutes per game. He did it so he can take the NBA by storm. If that means playing defense, rebounding, and destroying the starters in practice so they can be ready, so be it.