The gritty forward has dropped three straight triple-doubles heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers and has a league-leading seven overall on the season. Green has always been known for being a Swiss Army Knife on the floor, but he has truly put it all together this season on both ends from a statistical standpoint, averaging 15 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers on 41.5 percent shooting. The improvements he has made as a passer and shooter from last season has truly turned him into an elite player.
The thing about Green is that those numbers don’t even truly quantify just how valuable he is to the Golden State Warriors, as he switches from position to position game after game – a luxury many teams don’t have. He plays power forward, but regularly shifts to the center spot and holds it down as the anchor of the team’s defense. Lately (particularly when Stephen Curry has been out or limited due to injury), he has played point forward and has done it so brilliantly that Isiah Thomas referred to him as “Draymagic” last week. Green is sixth in the league in assists per game and the only non-guard to be in the top 15 in that category.
While numbers have never necessarily explained the true value of Green, it’s come to a point where the numbers he is putting up are historically good and he is starting to get wide recognition as one of the better players in the game.
So the question now is this: should he be considered the best power forward of the Western Conference? I’ve recently learned that this question can apparently make you look like a crazy person to many, but given his impact on both ends of the floor and the Warriors’ record of 33-2, there is serious consideration to be made. On Tuesday, former star and current NBATV analyst Chris Webber was in full agreement with the idea:
— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) January 6, 2016
This is coming from Webber, who is one of the most uniquely talented power forwards in the history of the game in his own right. It’s the highest of praise, and Green is clearly deserving of it.
Of course, plenty will disagree with this notion. The popular opinion is that Green is a “system player”, and that you can’t build a team around him because he can’t score like a Blake Griffin or Anthony Davis.
There is a point to be made about that and having Curry by your side certainly makes things a lot easier, but the game is so much more than simply scoring 20-plus points per game. Griffin and Davis cannot dominate a game without scoring the way Green can. Making smart plays at a high level and knowing all aspects of your teammates’ abilities are critical skills that few have, especially at the power forward position, and Green far exceeds his counterparts in that regard. Griffin is a great passer at his position, but he is simply not in Green’s level.
Combine that with the fact that neither player can sniff Green’s dominance on the defensive end (and no, blocked shots are not the strongest indicator of your abilities as a defender), and you can start to see why Webber is making the case about who the very best power forward in the league is right now.
Jim Park is a blogger and Tweet of the Night author of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.