February 11, 2017. Golden State Warriors 122, Memphis Grizzles, 107. What’s significant about this score on this date two years ago? Golden State was well on their way to a second NBA Championship in three years, avenging a loss to the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers in the previous season. This was just another victory along their way to an eventual championship correct? Not really.
On this date, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green recorded a triple-double like no other triple-double before. We know that Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson was the first player to average a triple-double for an entire season. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is on his way to averaging a triple double for the third consecutive season. That being said, triple doubles in the NBA aren’t uncommon occurrences.
What was unique about the triple-double achieved by Draymond Green two years ago, was that he achieved a triple-double while scoring only four points. Green reached this feat by grabbing 12 rebounds, dishing out 10 assists, and recording 10 steals. Quite an accomplishment.
The Warriors that year sent Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the aforementioned Green to the All-Star game. Based on his career so far, had newly acquired center DeMarcus Cousins been healthy the entire season, he likely would have been an All-Star, thus creating the unthinkable – the entire Warriors starting five being selected as All-Stars.
Alas, rehab from Cousins’ torn Achilles occurring the previous season kept him from playing until January 2019, and the coaches didn’t see fit to recognize Draymond as an All-Star this season, thus the Warriors were relegated to having only three players represent the organization, Durant, Curry and Thompson in this year’s edition. What a pity.
Barbershops are one of the cornerstones of America. Debates are held in barbershops on such varied topics as women, politics, religion and yes, sports. One of the familiar topics of discussion is whether or not Draymond Green is an All-Star caliber player. I mean, his stats aren’t particularly eye-popping. Nor does he have a “Sportscenter Highlight” type of game to his credit.
Obvious players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Allen Iverson, just to name a few, all have games in which they scored 50 or more points to their credit. No surprise there. However, one might be surprised to learn that such players with far less illustrious careers as Tony Delk, Corey Brewer, Willie Burton, Terrence Ross, and Rudy LaRusso also have a 50 point game on their resume. None of the last five players referenced would be mistaken for all-time greats, but they happened to have a big night at one point in their respective careers.
Noticeably absent is Draymond Green. Unlike the initial players recognized (Chamberlain, Jordan, Bryant, etc.) Green does have multiple All-Star appearances to his credit without having a 50 point game on his resume. One of the friendly “debates” in barbershops I have frequented the past couple of years has centered around whether or not Draymond Green should be an All-Star. For as many as there are for his inclusion, there are those who feel he is undeserving.
Green was not selected for the 2019 All-Star game, ending a three year run of being recognized as such. He himself said he wasn’t surprised at his omission. While his 2018-19 numbers are down (7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1 bpg), from his career averages (9 ppg, 7 rpg, 1.1 bpg), do these numbers say All-Star? Does Green solely benefit from playing alongside his illustrious teammates, and the Warriors’ run of success (three championships in four years, while seemingly poised for a fourth in five years), or does he merit being recognized as an All-Star?
The debates I have witnessed argue both for and against. There are those from the school of thought that his versatile game is a perfect compliment to his high scoring teammates, thus rendering his value in a manner that his numbers don’t indicate. Then there are those who feel that he has benefitted from being on “the right team at the right time.” While a collegian, Green worked into being recognized as an All-American and Big-Ten player of the year as a senior while at Michigan State. This led to him being selected by Golden State in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. In addition to being a three-time NBA champion, Green has been recognized as the 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a multiple time All-NBA Defensive team and/or All-NBA team player so far in his career.
The debate will likely rage on regarding Draymond Green and the legitimacy or appropriateness of being recognized as an All-Star. While not having gaudy/eye-popping stats, there are obviously those who feel as he warrants inclusion. This year notwithstanding, the previous three years of All-Star recognition can’t be taken away from him. While he was slowed by injury earlier this season, he has started to come around and look like the Draymond of old. Will he regain the form that led to being recognized as an All-Star, or will those who feel his inclusion was unwarranted in the first place be proven right. Only time will tell.