It was Game 1 of the matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trailblazers. The poised Warriors were heavily favored to beat the hungry Blazers, but the Blazers gave a good fight in the series opener. At the midway point of the third quarter, the Warriors were precariously holding on to a one-point lead.
Pushing the ball up the court, Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson committed a turnover. He carelessly threw a pass to nobody, to a space where he thought his teammate Draymond Green had filled. The errant pass ended up in the hands of Damian Lillard at the opposite end of the floor. With Green standing between him and his path to the rim, Lillard made the correct skip pass to an open Noah Vonleh for a potential breakaway dunk that would’ve given the Blazers the lead. As Vonleh went high up for the slam, Green—quickly switching to the open man—jumped with him, swatting away the dunk attempt in a style as thunderous as a knockout punch.
Draymond Green blocks Noah Vonleh’s dunk attempt in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. Photo from goldenstateofmind.com/Getty Images
This play spoke volumes of Green’s rise to the top; his struggle to overcome odds as an often overlooked underdog who had no chance. There he was, out from the shadows, coming up with an incredible play when all hope seemed lost. Green was picked 35th overall by the Warriors in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft, names such as Arnett Moultrie and Bernard James being chosen before him. He didn’t have the star power of Anthony Davis or Damian Lillard—the first and sixth picks, respectively—nor the esteemed potential of Bradley Beal or Andre Drummond, all of whom were the valued picks that year. What Green had, as a 6-foot-7 power forward from Michigan St., was an uncertain future in a league that wasn’t exactly thirsty for another 6-foot-7 power forward.
The Warriors failed to crack the code on Green’s game in his rookie year. For his much-awaited NBA debut against the Phoenix Suns, he grabbed one rebound in one minute of play. He continued to be a bench staple in his first two years with the Warriors, only showing signs of life as a super sub when one of his teammates went down with an injury.
The breakthrough in Green’s career came in the 2014-2015 season, when starting power forward David Lee suffered a hamstring injury. Green was the guy tasked to take Lee’s place, setting in motion the Warriors’ efficient, and scary small ball clockwork that sends opposing teams with demoralizing Ls. Green’s numbers improved across the board, nearly doubling his scoring output from 6 points per game to 11 and increasing his rebound and assist averages. He also solidified his reputation as an elite defender, spoiling the party of opposing team’s offense with at least a block and a steal per game. He puts the “D” in the Warriors’ Death Lineup.
The do-it-all Green became equal parts a role player and a vocal leader, shape-shifting into who his team needs, when they need it. It was no coincidence that the Warriors won the NBA Championship that year, the team’s first in 40 years. In the title-clinching Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Green’s numbers were historic: 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists—only the sixth triple double in a Finals-clinching game in NBA history. Green is sharing space in that elite group with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, James Worthy, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James.
In every game, Green finds various ways to help his team win—and his team wins a lot. In the two seasons that he became a starter, the Warriors made it to the Finals both times. From being passed on by teams in the draft, Green has become an immovable force in the NBA; a beacon of consistency and versatility.
Green’s on-court versatility requires an equally versatile footwear, which is why Nike rolled out a new Nike Zoom Rev PE for the NBA’s gifted all-around All-Star. The Draymond Green PE features Green’s “D23” logo and his jersey number. The shoe is equipped with breathable textile upper and a grooved outsole to provide responsive impact protection as well as sidewall traction to deliver great lateral grip. Buy the NIKE ZOOM REV PE.
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