Kurtenbach: Draymond Green looks ready to be himself again — that’s great news for the Warriors

Peninsula Premier Admin

I have a favorite play.

It’s not the Warriors’ beloved split action. It’s not Mix Floppy, either.

Come to think of it, I don’t believe it’s anywhere in the Warriors’ playbook.

But when the Warriors run it, I know they’re playing good ball — that they have the spirit and energy, albeit without all the talent, of those dynastic teams of the not-so-distant past.

The play is the “Draymond Express”, aptly dubbed by Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald.

It’s when Draymond Green takes a rebound and goes coast-to-coast for a layup or a dunk.

Tuesday night against the Spurs, Green did it twice. Playing point-center for the last four games, Green has been dishing out assists like they were beads at Mardi Gras, but Tuesday was the first time the Express pulled into the station in quite a while.

And if he’s capable of going coast-to-coast and finishing like he did against the Spurs, the Warriors are about to go to another level.

Now, the Draymond Express requires a few key things to work.

It requires players that run the court hard. The play doesn’t work unless everyone is running alongside Green.

It also requires shooters worthy of defenses’ respect. Stephen Curry is usually enough of a threat to fulfill this quota singlehandedly, but the more shooters flanking Green, the better.

But the final and largest requirement is a healthy Green.

That’s something the Warriors haven’t had yet this year. In fact, Green says it might be another week or two before he’s in optimal game shape.

If that’s indeed the case, Tuesday’s performance showed that he’s trending in the right direction.

Green caught COVID before the Warriors season started, sidelining him until the fifth game of the season. Even after returning to the court, he was becoming tired easily and more than a few folks around the NBA commented on his legs looking shot. Given the wear and tear he’s taken over the years, it was fair to wonder if the condition was permanent — a scary thought for the Warriors.

But whether it was the virus itself or COVID-induced delay to the start of his season that left him behind, Green is now back to looking like Draymond Green. In the first 16 he played this season, he had two blocks. But in his last five games, he has eight.

Two trips on the Express on Tuesday crystalized the status — his legs are under him and he’s ready to be a game-changer (in a good way) again.

“My burst is coming back,” Green said Tuesday. “It’s been a while since I played at this speed. I didn’t play at this speed last year. And my body is starting to catch up to that. It’s great. I feel good — I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time.”

You know that burst will help the Warriors on the defensive end, where Green’s impact is legendary.

“I can get off the floor a little quicker. Early in the season, I could see I needed to get to the spot and my body wasn’t quite getting there,” Green said.

But it’s on the offensive end where I think an in-shape Green can take the Warriors to a new level.

A Green who has confidence in his legs is a Green who can do more than make crafty passes on offense. It’ll improve his 3-point shooting, perhaps going as far as to make it respectable; it’ll make him a better roll man on screens (we saw this often in the back-to-back against San Antonio); and it will no doubt create more transition opportunities for the Dubs.

If Green isn’t thinking about if he can do something, he will do something to help the Warriors win.

Green’s already improved conditioning will allow him to play more center this season. He’s been the Warriors’ starting center for the last four games because of an overload of injuries, but before that, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was hesitant to play him at the five, likely because his game lacked the juice, the burst, the go, to be effective in the role.

But Green was outstanding at center the last four games — albeit against favorable matchups — and Kerr said that he’ll be looking to carve out spots for Green to play the five moving forward.

Green at center rarely gives up much defensively (Green is that good) but it does often give the Warriors another shooter next to Curry — something that will make No. 30’s life so much easier, which is a great thing for Golden State.

I’ve written countless times about Green’s mystical ability to will a team to victory. I can’t explain it, but a fully-actualized Green — whether at the four or five — is a one-of-a-kind force.

And the box score won’t tell you the half of it.

“I don’t judge it off of how many assists I have or how many points — it’s a feel thing for me,” Green said. “I can feel and tell when I’m in a rhythm and when it’s going well for me and when it’s not, and, quite frankly, it won’t always show up in the stat sheet if I’m feeling good offensively.”

Green said he wants to find a flow. And when he’s found one, the Warriors, even with this roster, are nearly unbeatable.

And Tuesday hinted that those flows are about to become commonplace.

Contributed by local news sources

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