Watch the player, not the ball
There’s a reason why the audience cheers “Defense!” during a game. There’s a reason why people often say “The best offense is a good defense.” And there are several reasons why Draymond Green was awarded the best defensive player for NBA Season 2016-2017.
The all-important numbers
Critics from the world over have praised Green for his defensive ability, but season 2016-2017 is arguably the best one of his career. He was able to keep players at bay both on the paint and on the perimeter. Proof? He leads the league in terms of defensive win shares at 4.7—the number of estimated wins Green has contributed thanks to his defensive participation.
Green is even tied for the league-lead in defensive field goal percentage (.439) within five feet of the basketball with a minimum of 400 shots defended. He also leads with 2 steals per game and is 295 on total deflections, which puts him just behind John Wall.
NBA estimated that, in the recently concluded season, 6.3 out of every 100 opponent possessions with Green on the court have resulted in a block or a steal by him.
The staggering odds
In seasons 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, Kawhi Leonard took home the award for Best Defensive Player. For a while, it even looked like Kawhi would become the second player in the history of the NBA to win the award for three consecutive years. Then there was Rudy Gobert, whose numbers were enviable from all angles as well. But when it came down to it, Green’s dominance was just undeniable.
It’s no secret that Green is not the quickest, tallest or strongest on the court. But what arguably sets him apart is his ability to read an opposing team faster than they might even read each other. He knows where he needs to be and gets there at the right moment, just in time to make his presence unavoidable. And that’s exactly what makes him such a force in the league. That’s why he was awarded the season’s Best Defensive Player.
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