Except for one loss, not having Stephen Curry isn’t hurting the Golden State Warriors. There are a number of reasons for that, but probably the biggest one has to be Draymond Green playing the best basketball of his career and possibly the best in the league right now.
Don’t let the triple doubles fool you. This is more than just numbers, although in Green’s case, the numbers mean just how much he does on the floor and how important he is for the Warriors. His ability to play all three positions of the frontcourt on both ends of the floor. His decision making, his shooting, his passing. The Warriors might never be able to completely replace a shooter of historic significance like Curry, but Green, at least in some games, makes it easier to overcome his absence.
Green finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists and 4 steals in a 111-108 win over the Denver Nuggets which almost got away from the Warriors. He played 44 minutes, and the Warriors couldn’t afford for him to play any less. Curry, after missing two games, was back in action, but last just 14 minutes in which he scored 5 points. Right now, this isn’t a return to the old, injured, fragile Curry, but the thought has to be crossing one or two people’s minds.
Green now has his sixth triple double of the season. He’s playing at the power forward or center position all of the time (mostly at the ‘4’) and after losing to Dallas, he’s averaging 19.5 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists. Those are Magic Johnson type numbers. Green, a former Michigan State player who took part of the max deal he signed this summer and turned it into a massive contribution to the university, is averaging 15.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game. A player who seemed troublesome, too emotional and not more than a tough role player on a talented team is showing more and more sides to his ever developing game, being one of the more complete and influential players in the NBA today, and probably about to make his first All-Star game appearance.
Klay Thompson has also honed in since his awful performance in the loss to Dallas. Playing 46 minutes, he scored 26 points, including the key layup that put the Nuggets a little bit out of reach in the final seconds. He’s averaging 27 points per game since the Dallas loss, taking 27 shots in each of these games. Best shooting guard in the NBA or not, Thompson has no problem carrying the offense or playing a bigger part in it, even if he isn’t as efficient and scary to other teams like Curry is.
The Warriors have either been super careful with Harrison Barnes or just his injury is worse than advertised, playing without him 16 games, going 14-2 during that time. For Curry, it seems more minor than the ankle sprain, but who knows. For now, even if it isn’t as smooth and easy as before, the Warriors seem to have found who to lean on without their MVP, be it the self proclaimed best shooting guard in the NBA or a player who can do everything on the court.