The results are in.
No surprises here. Kawhi Leonard gets a little more respect nationally than Draymond Green, which comes with the territory after a player is named MVP of the previous NBA Finals … even though he played 15 fewer games than Draymond Green and Green guards centers. OK, OK, if I take off my homer hat for a second, Leonard defends point guards ridiculously well for a guy his size.
Leonard even played three fewer games than Andrew Bogut, who Jeff Van Gundy recently called just “another guy.”
DeAndre Jordan played in all 82 games and led the league in rebounding (by a lot) with 15.0 per game. He also blocks a lot of shots and looks the part of a true center. However, Bogut serves as the quarterback of the defensive unit when he’s in, taking his tremendous vision and communicating to everyone where they should be. Bogut isn’t as flashy or durable as Jordan, but it’s kind of amusing that the Clippers (15th in defensive rating in a league of 30 teams) got two first-teamers while the Warriors (first in defensive rating) only got one.
But Green’s accomplishments really should be celebrated, and what better time than now? A lot has been made of Green’s value — specifically, whether he’s a “max player.” That label is usually bestowed on players who average at least 18 points per game and close to double figures in one of the two other major categories, but proof of Green’s worth is in the box score.
The leaders in minutes played last night:
- Draymond Green — 42:47
- James Harden — 41:50
- Stephen Curry — 39:25
No one else played 35 minutes. Green’s plus/minus was +10, which means the Warriors were outscored by six points in the 5:13 that he wasn’t on the floor. “That sounds about right,” says everyone who watched Green crush Dwight Howard’s will to play through his sore knee, help Klay Thompson on James Harden, grab eight defensive rebounds, and collect two steals last night.
I predicted that Green would have a “great” series against Houston after a “good” series (in my opinion) against Memphis, a team that presents challenges for a shorter-than-average power forward that other teams simply don’t. I’m feeling pretty good about that prediction now, even though it hardly counted as going out on a limb. Harrison Barnes may have done the most to raise his future earning power during these playoffs, but this postseason has hammered home the point that Warriors observers have been harping on all season: Golden State must pay Green. There’s no other option.
The Warriors will also have to pay Bogut a bonus of $1,945,946 for making one of the All-Defensive teams. It didn’t matter if he was named to the First or Second team, as long as he played 65+ games this season and was voted onto one of the squads, he was going to get that bonus (which equates to 15% of his salary).