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Is Warriors’ Draymond Green an all-time great defender? Years of evidence proves he belongs in discussion


Draymond Green is putting together another strong case to be included on this year’s All-Defensive Team.

He’s also putting together a strong case to be rewarded with the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

In an era of great defensive players that includes the likes of Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons, Green may very well be the best of the generation. And as time goes on, Green continues to make a case to be included among the all-time great defensive players this game has ever seen.

While Stephen Curry’s ascent to greatness gets most of the credit for the Warriors’ success over the last decade, you can also make a direct correlation to the team’s success and Green becoming one of the league’s best defenders.

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The groundwork for Golden State’s championship-level defense was laid by Mark Jackson in his second season as the team’s head coach. The arrival of Andrew Bogut helped accelerate the process but it was Green’s assertiveness defensively that pushed the Warriors over the top.

In their 2014-15 championship season, the Warriors became the league’s best defensive unit with a defensive rating of 100.4 according to NBA Stats. With Green on the floor, the team was even stingier, posting a defensive rating of 97.3. That number jumped to 103.1 when Green was on the bench, which would’ve ranked them outside of the top 10.

That year, the Warriors had so many capable defenders that many could have overlooked Green’s defensive contributions. Surrounded by the likes of Bogut, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson, it’s easy to see why. But it didn’t happen. Green was rightfully rewarded, earning the first of three straight All-Defensive First Team nods. In 2017, he won his first Defensive Player of the Year award.

Years later, the Warriors’ roster looks different than the one that went to five straight NBA Finals, but two things have stayed the same: Green is still anchoring their defense and it’s once again the best in the league.

As the current frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, Green is entering a different conversation of all-time greatness.

MORE: Ranking the 11 best 3-point shooters in NBA history

Is Draymond Green an all-time great defender?

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To first answer this question, you have to compare Green to the greats of his era. And with all due respect to Kawhi Leonard, Simmons and Embiid, we’re talking about Gobert here.

Gobert has the resume of an all-time great defender, and with two more Defensive Player of the Year awards than Green, he has an argument of being the best of this generation.

Green vs. Gobert accolades comparison
  DPOY All-Defense selections All-Star appearances
Draymond Green 1 6 3
Rudy Gobert 3 5 2

But Gobert has long had the stigma of being a great regular season defensive player who gets game planned around in the postseason. You can’t say that about Green.

In fact, Green is so disruptive defensively, teams look to keep him away from the action. That’s the mark of a great defensive player and one that should be in the all-time great discussion.

It’s hard to compare eras, but Green is exhibiting the type of talent defensively that should transcend any era or style of basketball on a nightly basis with his ability to guard multiple positions, tag cutters and recover, and protect the rim at a high level. And as his athleticism erodes, his mind is becoming sharper than ever. Few can read a play and dissect it in real-time, quarterback a defense and elevate it with their presence as Green can. 

That’s why he should be mentioned among some of the great defensive players the game has ever seen. 



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