For the past two seasons, Draymond Green has been the best defensive player on what most agree to be the best regular season team in the NBA.
But in both years, Green has been denied the trophy that accompanies the recognition of being the league’s best defensive weapon. Instead, he has received nothing, despite his invaluable effort on the defensive side of the ball.
This season, however, looks to be different for Green. And his teammates are noticing.
When asked who should win the defensive player of the year award during shoot-around on Tuesday morning, first-year Warrior, JaVale McGee, simply replied:
“I’m going with Draymond.”
McGee’s comments might appear to be strictly support of a teammate, but the numbers back up his claim.
In previous seasons, Green’s statistics have been overshadowed by two-time DPOY, Kawhi Leonard. This season, statistics show Green is having perhaps his best defensive season.
So far this year, Green is on pace to average 2.1 steals per game — the best of his career — while his blocks per game have held steady from 2016 at 1.4 per game.
The only area Green has seen drop off slightly from last season is defensive rebounding. In 2016, Green averaged 7.8 defensive boards per game, while in 2017, that number has slipped to only 6.7.
To further the argument for Green as a frontrunner for DPOY, it’s important to note how Green’s stats compare to other players in the league not only at his position.
Green not only is tied for first place in steals this season with Washington Wizards point guard John Wall at 151, but Green outright leads the league with 2.1 steals per game. That’s at any position, let alone power forward.
Green also leads the league in defensive plus/minus, where he is averaging a plus-5.0 for the season. The two closest players are Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, both at plus-4.6.
Green should be the favorite to win the DPOY award this season, but his chances could be hindered by his reputation around the league as a “dirty player.” Playoff groin shots to Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams, and another to LeBron James, have painted Green as a villain and hurt his chances in the eyes of voters.
One thing Green can hang his hat on is the support from his teammates, particularly McGee in this case. But his vote won’t count come playoff time.