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Breaking Down the Fantasy Rise of Draymond Green

Four years ago, you would’ve been considered crazy to suggest that Draymond Green would succeed in the NBA. Two years ago, you would’ve been deemed a moron to assert that Green would become a top-10 fantasy player.

Green’s basketball trajectory continues to defy projections. Once viewed as a “tweener” who slipped to the second round of the draft, Green has not only proven he’s a quality NBA contributor, but he has also become the glue of the Warriors’ basketball juggernaut who does absolutely everything.

He’s already won a ring and finished second in last year’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, and the accolades should continue this year as he appears well on his way to his first All-Star appearance. His stat line that has transcended into fantasy gold has vaulted him into the category of “fantasy studs.” He’s currently ranked higher on ESPN’s Player Rater than LeBron James. Ponder that for a moment.

Who could’ve possibly predicted this four years ago, two years ago, or even just a year ago? Green’s rise has been colossal and at times stunning. Sometimes I still have to stop and think about him playing at Michigan State, and how I admittedly concluded that he won’t last in the NBA. But now he’s carrying my fantasy team, and I’m literally in awe.

Green currently ranks 8th on Player Rater with a rating of 12.69. He’s posting these silly figures: 13.2 PPG, 47.1 % FG, 74.5 % FT, 1.5 3PM, 8.2 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.4 BPG. When you look at his marks on Player Rater, his marks are positive in every category except for free-throw percentage, and his negative impact there is extremely minimal (-0.14).

By comparison, LeBron is averaging much more in terms of scoring (25.6 PPG), but his output is less in RPG, APG, 3PM, SPG, BPG, and free-throw percentage. I highly doubt anybody forecasted Green to be a more valuable fantasy weapon than James during 2015-16, but it’s happening.

Each year, Green seems to silence his critics even more, and this can be noted in his fantasy relevance. During his rookie season (2.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 0.7 APG in 13.4 MPG), he showed enough to make us believe he could maybe find a place in the league. During his second year (6.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.9 BPG in 21.9 MPG), he became a resourceful contributor off the bench, but only a fantasy threat in really deep leagues.

Come last season, he developed into a sneaky swiss-army knife with the following line: 11.7 PPG, 1.4 3PM, 8.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.3 BPG. This impressive line launched him into the top 20, which is amazing in and of itself.

I’ll be honest, I thought Draymond reached his maximum potential after last season. I reasoned that Green has been fortunate enough to play alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who command so much attention. The paranoia they cause leaves Green with open jumpers and clear driving lanes, cultivating a perfect role for his skill set. He made the most of it, but he certainly couldn’t get better, right?

This is where the rise of Draymond continues. He has taken yet another leap in 2015-16. His most significant improvement has been his assist clip, as he has gone from 3.7 to 7.1. He ranks sixth in the league in APG, and this is a guy who is typically slotted at power forward and sometimes even center. How has this happened?

June 16, 2015 - Cleveland, OH, USA - The Cleveland Cavaliers' Timofey Mozgov, left, and Iman Shumpert, middle, fight for a loose ball with the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green during the second quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The Warriors won, 105-97, to clinch the championship

Phil Masturzo/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Green has been an underrated distributor the last couple years. He often receives the ball after setting a ball screen for Curry. The defense doubles Curry, and Curry slips a quick pass to Green who then plays four on three. While this four-on-three matchup is obviously favorable for the offense, there are few big men who can handle the rock effectively and make a quick decision where the ball should go. Green exhibits mastery in his ability to attack the rim and either fire a pass to the perimeter for an open three or drop off an alley-oop to Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli.

The Warriors have noted Green’s crafty passing, and they are utilizing it more this season. While Green’s usage is similar this season (17.9) to last (17.1), his assist percentage is noticeably higher this year (27.1 % compared to 15.5 % during 2014-15). This means that while Green is handling the ball about the same as last season, he is receiving the ball in areas to generate scoring opportunities much more frequently. Golden State has recognized Green’s ability to punish teams with his playmaking, and they are as a result running much of their offense through him. And they’re 19-0. It’s working.

Unless teams decide they want to focus more on stopping Green than Curry and Thompson (which is highly doubtful), don’t expect Green’s beastly numbers to decline much, if at all. He should remain a steady source of assists from the power forward position while also chipping in points, rebounds, threes, steals, blocks, and satisfying percentages.

It’s incredibly rare to see a second-round pick ever boast fantasy significance, let alone become a fantasy monster. Green has taken giant steps each season he has been in the league, and just when you think his value is capped, he turns it up another notch.

Owners of The Dancing Bear should enjoy the ride and recognize the uniqueness of Green’s worth. It’s tough to even find a big man who can score, rebound, and hit threes. Draymond does this and also racks up over seven assists a game. And he registers over a steal and a block per outing. It’s really insane.

In recent history, we can recall Joakim Noah during 2013-14, who averaged a double-double while also notching 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. Or Blake Griffin, who has been a source of assists as a big man in recent seasons, with his APG hovering around five each of the last two seasons on top of superb scoring and rebounding. But even Noah and Griffin have had their limitations, as neither are consistent threats from three (Noah isn’t ever) and Griffin doesn’t contribute much in the defensive categories.

Green’s rise is historical because he literally doesn’t have a weakness, and he has, in just four years, ascended from a potential D-League talent to a fantasy wizard and worthy All-Star. It’s unbelievable to see him climb the fantasy ranks each season, and he now finds himself near the top of the ladder alongside names such as Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.

He’s that special.

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