When the Golden State Warriors lost two of their best players in recent history, it was no surprise to hear the moans and gnashing of teeth that followed soon after.
Role players – especially when playing their hearts out and producing – hold a special place in the hearts of Warriors fans. But these actors have often used the Warriors as a springboard for redemption and renewed valor; once such a goal is achieved, other teams rush in with more tempting offers to pick them up and take them away, in an attempt to make themselves more robust and a somewhat weaker rival.
Gary Payton II, a journeyman who earned a reputation as one of the best perimeter defensemen in the league, will be dearly missed. In his place is Donte DiVincenzo, who may not be on the same level as a stopper, but will surely aim to replicate what Payton II was able to achieve, with the added benefit of being an outside shooting threat. decent.
When looking at JaMychal Green – the recent signing of the 6’8” veteran from the Warriors – it’s hard not to draw parallels with now-former Warrior Otto Porter Jr.
Both are what I like to call “power wings” – big enough to make an impact as pseudo-greats, whether as switchable assets that can be moonlit as defenders on the positional spectrum, or having the size and physique required to crush the boards.
They’re also nimble enough to capitalize on their matchups, whether on offense as stretch forwards or as long stoppers who possess the know-how required to be effective team defenders.
While they both loom as floor spacers, Porter Jr. — a career long-range shooter at 40 percent on 3.3 attempts — has a massive advantage in raw numbers. Green is a *slight* downgrade: 36.6 percent on 2.2 attempts from beyond the arc in his eight-year career.
Green’s last stint with the Denver Nuggets didn’t provide the most optimistic shooting prospects of his career. He drilled just 26.6% of his threes on just 1.9 attempts last season; not counting his first season in the league (only 24 games played), both marks are career lows.
It’s reasonable to conclude that Green’s shooting issues last season were an anomalous occurrence, although it’s equally reasonable to consider those issues cause for concern. But barring setbacks of any kind – related to injury, age, etc. – it’s also hard not to imagine the kind of peak he could achieve with a very heavy roster.
His 2018-19 season was arguably his best shooting season of his career: 40.3% on nearly 3 attempts per game from beyond the arc, split between stints with the Memphis Grizzlies (41 games, 39.6% on 2.3 attempts) and the Los Angeles Clippers (24 games, 41.3% on 3.3 attempts).
The only infamous memory of Green among Warriors fans is most likely his shooting exploits in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, where the Clippers took the Warriors to 6 games. Green shot 12 of 23 from three – a blistering 52.2%.
Green isn’t the most versatile long-range shooter. Most of his attempts from beyond the arc during this 2019 series – 20 of his 23 attempts in total – were of the catch-and-shoot variety, and were considered “open” (closest defender at 4 -6 feet) or “wide open”. (closest defender more than 6 feet away).
The lack of variety may be apparent, but in a team that has many creators who can generate advantages in multiple ways, Green’s hyper-specialized role in attack may be more than enough. Most defensive attention will not be directed at him; he has shown a penchant for punishing such inattention in the past.
In a team that generated plenty of threes last season – the Warriors were 10th in three-turn frequency and 2nd in over-break-three frequency last season – green profiles as an additional weapon in their arsenal sniper, the one who drilled 43.4% of his corner shots and 39.3% of his attempts over the break during the 2018-19 season.
He replicated those numbers during his 2020-21 stint with the Nuggets: 42.1% on corners and 39.0% on attempts over the break. His 1.26 points per possession (PPP) on catch-and-shoot looks was 22nd out of 117 players (minimum 150 attempts), per Synergy.
His attempts with the Nuggets could better approximate what he would look like in the Warriors’ heavy movement offense. Nikola Jokić is the rare combination of a game connector and a game finisher, with many self-created chops. Such a threat generates many advantages on offense, and Green feasted on the opportunities produced by his MVP teammate.
Stephen Curry is a different breed of perks maker. He may not be a low post threat who sucks up doubles from the blind spots, but his otherworldly gravity on the ball and as a dribble penetrator on the paint dabs is quite similar where Green can park in valuable real estate and have the time and space to skyrocket its value.
Sprinkle in additional advantage-generating threats to Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole (especially in 2nd unit lineups where Green will most likely see most of his minutes), and a powerful high/low passer and “Delay” initiator to Draymond Green , and Green plans to eat more than he did last season, where despite the presence of Jokić, the absence of additional offensive threats (i.e. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.) has allowed the defenses to focus on him, resulting in a sub-per season of shooting by his standards.
Although not as important as his outside shot, Green is skilled as an occasional cutter. Having Jokić as a teammate makes it almost mandatory that you have to be at least decent as a cutter, and Green has proven to be an available and capable game finisher on such possessions (1.327 PPP in 2020-21, 57th percentile) – especially when scouting for his teammates generating gravity and subsequently sliding.
(Notice how most of his possessions as a ‘cutter’ consisted of dunker-spot finishes – not too dissimilar to a Kevon-Looney type role in situations where Draymond Green has already cut through defenses in the short roll after Curry draws two bodies around a marble screen.)
Defensively, Green doesn’t rank as particularly outstanding. But he competes on switchability and as a passable defender on the assist side.
Like Porter Jr., one-on-one defense on the ball isn’t his forte, but it’s not the worst thing in the world whenever he’s tasked with defending a sneaky, quick wing or guard. In a pinch, Green can provide just enough stopping power to extend possessions, allow teammates behind him to consolidate, and stagnate on half court long enough to spawn ineffective attempts.
Much like Porter Jr., Green’s strongest suit on defense may be as a team defender. He is generally aware and alert, keeping his head on a pivot and watching both his man and the action on the ball.
In particular, as a weak side low man tasked with being the first line of defense for help, Green is more than capable. While he may not come across as an outstanding shot blocker (0.4 blocks and 1.9% block rate for his career), he can alter shots by taking the correct reads and being timely and basically sound with his rotations.
The one aspect where Green and Porter Jr. are eerily similar are their rebound metrics. Porter Jr. averaged 9.5 rebounds for 75 possessions last season, including 2.3 offensive rebounds for 75 possessions; Green also had 9.5 rebounds for 75 possessions last season, including 2.8 offensive rebounds for 75 possessions.
Rebound rates are also similar: 14.2% on total rebounds for Porter Jr, compared to 14.5% for Green, who had a slight advantage in offensive rebound rate (8.6%) over his predecessor ( 6.9%).
With a rapidly drying free agent market and increasingly limited options, Green isn’t particularly a home run. But home runs aren’t necessary with many big hitters already on the roster; Green is more of a contact hitter, one who can help the Warriors as an auxiliary piece.
Low-cost, potentially high-paying moves have been a hallmark of the Warriors’ modus operandi for the past few seasons. He paid off massively with the likes of Porter Jr. and Payton II. Green – along with DiVincenzo – are the continuation of this philosophy.
With the amount of equity accumulated by the front office – culminating in a recent championship – such a philosophy deserves another shot at further success.