Golden State’s championship defense — and their three titles and five straight Finals appearances were as much about an elite defense as Stephen Curry‘s gravity and shooting — was built around the versatility of Draymond Green‘s defense. The Warriors made small-ball work in a way no other team could because when they went small Green could guard opposing big men, and the Warriors didn’t lose anything (actually, they got better that way).
Green has also never lacked confidence.
On the most recent “Dubs Talk” podcast at NBC Sports Bay Area, he said he was “the best defender to ever play in the NBA.” Here’s the full quote, so you don’t think this is being pulled out of context.
“I think I’m the best defender to ever play this game. One-hundred percent. That’s my opinion. But I also think I view the game a lot differently than most people view the game. I think I just see it from a different perspective. I think when you look at the things that make a great defender: reaction time, toughness, being able to see the picture long before it develops, and most importantly, in order to finish a defensive possession, you’ve got to rebound. And I think I rebound well. And so when I look at all the facets that make up the defensive side of the ball, I’m think I’m great in every facet. So I’m think I’m the best defender to ever play in the NBA. I’ll stand by that. I’ll put myself up against anyone.”
Is it really a surprise Green said this? He has said it before. Part of greatness is a confidence that borders on — or crosses the line into — arrogance. You’re not going to be the best if you don’t believe you’re the best, and Green passes that test. Easily.
Best defender ever to play the game? Bill Russell has two handfuls of rings to show you. Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, Michael Jordan, and Kevin Garnett would have to be part of the conversation.
Green also belongs in that conversation — he is the most versatile defender ever. He was built for today’s version of the NBA with its switching defenses; he recognizes what needs to be done early, he quarterbacks a defense, and he can guard 1-5 effectively. He has the rings to show for it.
The “best defender ever” is a mythical title, but Green has earned his place in that conversation.