The Golden State Warriors have seen Draymond Green emerge as the second-most crucial player on the league’s best team. In fact, his partnership with Stephen Curry is so effective that they’ve surpassed the Oklahoma City Thunder pairing of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as the league’s most dynamic duo.
Lest the natives get hostile, let’s qualify what I mean by this. I’m not talking about which pair of players are the “best” in the conventional sense; I’m referring to which duo plays the best together. And the Warriors pairing is the best in the league.
Based on ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, the Thunder partnership has an aggregate Real Plus-Minus of +17.85, a truly impressive number. However, the Warriors’ duo is right there with them at +17.74. Durant and Westbrook have combined for 11.7 win shares while Curry and Green have combined for 12.0. There are definitive staitistical arguments that put the Golden State duo on par with the Thunder pairing, even if Green isn’t quite the same box-score monster Westbrook is.
When it comes to the actual on/off numbers, it’s even more telling. In the 974 minutes Curry and Green have played together, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 466 points. By comparison, Westbrook and Durant, who have the best number of any duo not playing for the Warriors, are plus-275 in 766 minutes.
The Warriors, though, have been outscored by 67 in 340 minutes when neither Green nor Curry is on the hardwood, per NBAWowy. However, the Thunder have only been outscored by 33 in the 315 minutes when neither of their superstars is on the court.In other words, the two teams, without either of their pair on the court, are roughly comparable. In fact, if anything, the Thunder have fared better. Yet, when both stars play together, the Warriors’ success is unquestionably on a higher level.
So how does that happen?
While Durant and Westbrook tend to duplicate one another, often taking turns in isolation sets, the Warriors’ duo fit perfectly and complement one another.
Green is a vastly underrated player, particularly by those who would like to call him overrated. He’s threatening to be the second player in NBA history to average 20 points, 12 boards and 10 dimes per 100 possessions in a season. The first was Grant Hill in 1996-97.
And he could do that while winning the Defensive Player of the Year.
He’s a completely unique being in the universe. He’s a power forward in a small forward’s body who stretches the court, helps run the point on offense and defends all five positions. His versatility makes him special.
Stephen Curry is the best shooter in the history of the world who can create and make shots from anywhere on the court. And while he’s not an elite defender, contrary to the opinion of many, he’s a well-above average one, and he’s able to generate a lot of steals.
And thanks to the defensive acumen of Green playing behind him, the Warriors don’t often have to pay a heavy price if one of his gambles fails.
Becuase Curry is such a brilliant shooter and Green is a superb passer, they work well on offense, too. In fact, looking at shots off one another’s passes, the Warriors’ pairing has scored 383 points on 329 shots. Their OKC counterparts have notched just 322 points on 338 shots. Green and Curry have scored 51 more points on nine fewer shots.
It may seem like blasphemy to suggest that they’re a better duo than Westbrook and Durant, and individually, you might have a case. But when taken in the context of how they play together and what they do for their team, Curry and Green are now the league’s most dynamic duo.