Draymond Green has been racking up the triple-doubles, but they’re just one detail in an otherwise historic season.
The triple-double holds a special place in the upper echelon of individual sporting achievements. Basketball, unlike other sports, is unique in how much responsibility each player takes on any time they step on the floor. A player might be able to effortlessly drain a step-back jumper, but on the very next possession they could get burned on a baseline cut and give up an easy lay-up. Then again, basketball rewards unselfish hard workers who hit the boards and make that extra, smart pass. And if they do enough of these things, basketball rewards them with a triple-double — an unpretentious, widely-accepted denomination that affirms that you had a good day. Just ask Ice Cube (Warning: This should be played at high-volume, preferably in a residential area):
Draymond Green “messed around and got a triple-double” not once, not twice, but THREE games in a row this week, averaging a ridiculous 17.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 13.3 assists, not to mention 2.3 blocks, 1.7 steals and like eight scowls, 12 high-fives, and four fist-pumps. You can’t argue with those stats. Let’s contextualize this run: how many times did these players get three consecutive triple-doubles?
Grant Hill - 1
Magic Johnson - 1
LeBron James - 2
Michael Jordan - 4
There’s simply no parallel in any other sport for this level of all-encompassing dominance. You certainly won’t be seeing a quarterback throw a touchdown on one play and record a sack on the next. And you’ll rarely see a pitcher throw a no-hitter and hit a home run in the same game. So Tom Brady can throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns and Dallas Keuchel can strikeout 10 players and shut the opposition out, but they can still only be excellent in this very specific way. Hell, even the best midfielder in soccer would find it hard to score and assist a goal and then make several telling contributions on the defensive-end.
That’s what makes Draymond Green and his current triple-double streak so, so special. We already knew Green was a Swiss Army knife of a player. Check that, he’s THE Swiss Army Knife of the NBA. No player is more liable to contest a shot, tear down the rebound, sprint up the floor, and then find a trailing shooter for an wide-open three-pointer. Sure, the boxscore would only show a defensive rebound and assist, but Green is an expert in five-point swings in the league. Not to mention all the in-between work.
And yet, Green has still struggled to garner the widespread respect and admiration his obvious talents deserve. It’s hard enough being the best (or close to it) defender in the league, but then add being a dynamite passer, dangerous rim-runner and, possibly, the best big man in the fast-break, and you have a historically rare talent, not the nice, complementary workhorse many have him pegged as.
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But what Draymond’s detractors seem to fundamentally misunderstand is the nature of victory in the NBA. Yes, you win by scoring more points than the opposition, but how you arrive to that point is hardly predicated on the idea of just getting buckets. No, Draymond Green isn’t the most talented scorer on Earth (he’s hovering at around 15 points-per-game), but drives the true factors of success in basketball — defense, generating more possessions than your opponent (force turnovers and prevent offensive rebounds), efficiency (derived from smart shot-selection, namely generating free-throws, open three-pointers and fast-break opportunities). This is just a contrived way of saying that the team that shoots better and has more possessions will win the game. Basketball isn’t rocket science, but Draymond Green is playing the game like a genius.
Here, let’s play a game: Which three players in all of NBA HISTORY have averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists and shot at least 36% from downtown (per-100 possessions)?
Did you guess Larry Bird? Great job!
Did you guess Magic Johnson? Wrong, but good guess.
How about Michael Jordan? Nope. Wrong again.
LeBron James? Yes.
And…Kevin Durant? Charles Barkley? No. Nah.
…Draymond Green? Yes!
It may come as a shock, but Green is currently enjoying the kind of season that should garner genuine MVP-consideration most years, but he’s unlucky (and lucky) to be playing on the same team as Stephen Curry (who’s pretty good, I’d say). He’s shooting the lights out, scoring a respectable number of points, rebounding like Dennis Rodman and Lisa Leslie had a child and absolutely punishing teams whenever they show even a tiny bit of laziness. Oh, you’re going to cheat on the pick-and-roll…BOOM HAHA HE JUST ALLEY-OOPED IT TO ANDREW BOGUT!
Seeing him gain traditional attention thanks to his triple-doubling exploits is certainly an enjoyable affirmation of his obvious talents, but I daresay I doubt Green cares all that much. Green is the epitome of a team-player, thanklessly and selfishly putting his body on the line to guarantee the Warriors come out ahead. He celebrates like a fan, plays like a warrior (pun intended), and treats his colleagues like brothers, and it all shows. So, no, he’ll never be a traditional star who scores 20+ points consistently, but as long as his body allows he’ll affect the game more than any volume-scorer ever could. Heck, even these triple-doubles are just a more visible instance of the stuff he’s been doing all year anyway.
And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t *really* matter. Let Dray be Dray, appreciate what he’s doing, and block the haters like Green did to LeBron.
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