Warriors’ Winning Pivot: Draymond Green’s Suspension Unveils Hidden Benefits for the Team and Player.

Warriors’ Winning Pivot: Draymond Green’s Suspension Unveils Hidden Benefits for the Team and Player.
Warriors’ Winning Pivot: Draymond Green’s Suspension Unveils Hidden Benefits for the Team and Player.

Draymond Green’s indefinite suspension might have been the best thing to happen to the Warriors this season.

And in a twisted way, it might have been the best thing to happen to Green, too.

With the forward out of the lineup, Dubs coach Steve Kerr has been forced to play — and trust — the team’s young players, and they have provided both positive energy and positive play.

The win over the Celtics was no fluke. Sticking with Denver for all but the final few minutes (blame the altitude… or the refs) can’t be ignored, either. With Brandin Podziemski as a starter, Trayce Jackson-Davis as the team’s center of choice, and Jonathan Kuminga as an offensive focal point, the Warriors won five of their seven games without Green, including five in a row before Christmas.

The young Warriors have helped this team find its identity — Golden State is scrappy, smart, and small.

It’s reminiscent of the vibe the Warriors found at the end of the 2020-2021 season.

This time, instead of finding their best form in the final 20 games, they’ve found it ahead of the calendar’s flip to a new year.

The Warriors have not just looked good without Green — they’ve looked better.

But that, of course, raises some unsavory questions ahead of Green’s return to the lineup.

When that return happens is anyone’s guess — the joy of “indefinite” — but right now, NBA insiders are guessing Green will be reinstated in a week or so, bringing the span of his suspension to 12 or 13 games.

If the Warriors keep winning between now and then, it’s fair to wonder how Green will fit into the lineup.

Heaven forbid the Warriors mess up a good thing.

But I think the Warriors finding themselves amid Green’s kangaroo court-mandated quest to do the same will serve the forward.

Green shouldn’t be handed anything when he returns. He’ll have to earn his minutes back.

And Green, in limited minutes and a clearer role, is a win for him and the Warriors.

At the start of the season, the Warriors kept looking to Green and the other Warriors veterans to fix the team’s problems. It resulted in too much playing time for too little positive play.

The offense can’t stop turning the ball over? Draymond, the de facto point guard, was asked to fix it.

The defense is a sieve? One of the greatest defenders ever will clean it up, right?


And truth be told, such efforts might be beyond the scope of Green’s capabilities these days.

The forward can still help the Warriors win, but he should no longer be responsible for winning.

There’s a difference.

And when Green returns, he should find out what it is.

Bringing Green back as a role player — someone who has to fit the lineup instead of being a mainstay of the lineup — should maintain what the Warriors are building without him.

Green was averaging close to 30 minutes per game in contests he wasn’t ejected from this season.

Shaving five or 10 minutes isn’t a stretch. You can’t say others haven’t earned those minutes he’d lose.

Green would merely be the latest Warriors veteran to take a seat this season. Andrew Wiggins and Chris Paul have both come off the bench this season. Kevon Looney — a mainstay for the Warriors for the last half-decade — is seeing fewer and fewer minutes as he’s been outplayed by Jackson-Davis and Dario Šarić.

Green is entitled to a statue outside of Chase Center, his number in the rafters, and, I believe, a jacket from the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But at this point in his career, with the way he’s been playing, he’s not entitled to minutes that could, instead, go to a player who is earning them.

For Green, less might be more.

A less expansive role — and fewer minutes as a center — might bring out his best ball.

It’s a good problem for the Warriors to have in a week or so — if they can maintain their current level of play.

Something authentic and positive might come from this phony suspension and “return to play path,” after all.

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