Warriors

Who Pays the Biggest Price for Draymond’s Actions?

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On Wednesday evening, the decision on Draymond Green‘s actions against Jusuf Nurkić was made.

The NBA put their foot down. They have had enough of all of the antics. Green was suspended indefinitely. Golden State now has to try and chug along without their most important player after Stephen Curry.

With already a loss in their first game without Green and not much light at the end of the tunnel, the Warriors’ big picture for the season has become increasingly clear. If they don’t start an upward trend soon, there won’t be much belief in the team’s ability to compete for a title this year.

Surely, this is a sentiment that has gotten stronger since their first skid after being 6-2. They haven’t been able to pick up the pieces thus far, and now they face another massive hurdle to get over. They’ve been taking blow after blow only 24 games into their season. Green’s suspension felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s tough to envision this season being over already, but there isn’t much upside moving forward for the Warriors’ success for the rest of the season.

The Warriors’ Struggles Define Insanity

The NBA’s Stance on Draymond

As mentioned before, the league took a serious measure in their disciplinary decision on Green.

But you can’t blame them at all. This is the fourth serious incident since October 2022, when he punched Jordan Poole during training camp. That happened only four months after storming TD Garden and winning their fourth title in eight seasons. Striking Poole set the precedent for an ugly season in San Francisco.

Green stomped on Domantas Sabonis in Game 2 of the 1st Round of the Western Conference playoffs. He was suspended for Game 3 of that series. Green was suspended for five games just over a month ago for having Rudy Gobert in a chokehold in their In-Season Tournament game against the Timberwolves. The latest of these incidents was striking Nurkić on Wednesday night.

The NBA’s decision shows that they believe a definite number of suspended games was not going to be enough. The message that they are trying to send would not get through if it was another 7-10 games.

The Serious Issue

The quotes and reports that have been swirling around points to a deeper issue for Green.

There have been several quotes from around the league referencing Green’s mental health. Even Steve Kerr had a very long, serious press conference quote about Green’s suspension.

Kerr was teammates with Dennis Rodman and Rasheed Wallace, notable players who have been involved with antics similar to Green. He has seen how these actions can affect the individual and team in negative ways. Throughout Kerr’s tenure as the Warriors’ head coach, him and Green have butted heads several times, but those competitive interactions have strengthened their bond. Kerr understands Green needs this hiatus to change whatever is going on in his life.

Whether one believes his actions on the court is a product of any mental-health issues, we can’t say it is right or wrong. It’s unfair to speculate anything as someone who isn’t involved in those meetings and rulings. What is apparent is that the NBA points to stress and mental health as a cause to off-court shenanigans in recent history.

Ja Morant was sent away to do a special type of counseling last season when he was seen flashing a gun in a Denver club in March of this year. Rudy Gobert shared a profound quote about Green after the Nurkić incident as well.

The hope is that stepping away from playing games and spending time with teammates, family and friends will spark some change in Green. Golden State needs him, and they can’t stress that enough. The emphasis on that sentiment has been mentioned since his rise alongside the rest of the championship core the last decade.

Internal Struggles

Green’s actions are just half of what’s going on with Curry’s running mates. There seems to be something brewing with how both Green and Klay Thompson are dealing with the team’s inability to get back on track.

As the trusted core of Thompson, Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney continue to be subpar in their own ways, the confidence starts to dwindle and frustration starts to affect their personalities. There was a time where Green and Thompson were players that would dominate other teams alongside Curry on a nightly basis. In 2016, they would routinely sit for the entirety of fourth quarters because they built up such a big lead in the first three.

The addition of Kevin Durant and the back-to-back championships surely beefed up their confidence. You’re not seeing those dominant performances as often anymore, if not at all. Teams and players that used to be overwhelmed by the Warriors are taking turns getting their revenge.

Part of the reason why the Draymond absence is going to hurt is because of his partnership with Curry. As much as Curry and Thompson are the “Splash Brothers” — and they have had plenty of legendary performances throughout the years — it’s the pick-and-roll action and telepathic connection that makes the Curry and Draymond partnership special.

Without that, the Warriors have to reinvent their approach on both ends because Draymond is still an elite defender that anchors that end of the court.

Silver Lining

Overall, there’s not a lot of positivity after hearing of Green’s suspension. The team is going through a series of excruciating losses to good teams. Losing an important part of the whole operation in the way they’re losing Green hurts deeper than if he was just gone due to an injury.

Of course, Green’s absence from the team opens up opportunities for the rest of the roster. Steve Kerr dove in head first with a starting lineup change against the Clippers on Thursday night. It certainly helped that Andrew Wiggins has been going through the worst season of his career (and probably his entire life?) so far. Brandin Podziemski and Jonathan Kuminga were put in the starting lineup in place of Wiggins and Green.

The deeper the Warriors dig this hole they’re in, the more this season turns into a waste. To avoid it being a complete waste, there must be some growth from their younger players. Expect to see a heavy dose of Podziemski, Kuminga, Moses Moody and Trayce Jackson-Davis. Maybe they’ll call up Gui Santos from the G League— anything is an option with the way things have gone.

Front-Office Implications

GM Mike Dunleavy is a key cog in this roller coaster of a year. There’s already been some rumblings about teams checking Golden State’s temperature on their players, reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Warriors have intriguing young players. They may not be at the level of other teams’ young players, but this stretch without Green can be a time where other teams get a good look at them. A guy like Kuminga could be part of a trade after showing his versatility on both ends. Podziemski could end up impressing other teams so much that they think about asking for him in a trade.

As we all know, Dunleavy does not have the same loyalty that perhaps Bob Myers had to the older players. He already made a big move with getting Chris Paul for Jordan Poole. Days before that trade, he said to the media that he plans to keep Poole for “four years, at least”.

The future of the Warriors is now hanging in the balance because of Draymond’s actions. The question is now, “who will be paying the price for them?”

About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

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