Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Draymond Green

Draymond Green - F - 6'7, 230
FA Ranking: 4

Restricted free agency might be the only thing keeping hometown (Saginaw is close enough) sensation Draymond Green from playing for his favorite childhood team.  The unofficial dance between Green and the Pistons' front office has been happening all year, with each side stating anonymously that they would be open to an agreement with the other side.  The Golden State Warriors stand in the middle of the two, as they have the right to match any offer sheet Green signs this summer.  They've gone so far as to say that they'll match any offer Green receives, making it unlikely that we see Draymond Green in red, white and blue.  That being said, front offices aren't always true to their word, so what would it really look like if Stan Van Gundy went out and brought the Saginaw native "home" to Detroit Auburn Hills?

Draymond Green

Green made the leap this season in Steve Kerr's first year as Golden State's head coach.  That's not to say Green was useless under Mark Jackson, but he became a two-way game changer in 2014-15.  He was a key role player in the Warriors' 2nd-ranked offense, and the catalyst for Golden State's league-best defense.  Steph Curry is definitely the face of the Warriors, but it would be hard to argue that Green wasn't the heart this year.  His ability to affect the game in a variety of ways shows in his stats.  Green's 16.1 AST% is one of the top marks in the league among big men, speaking to his ability to make smart passes and also to make plays happen.  His ability to convert inside and outside the arc made him a key role player in the Warriors' offense as well.  Green's also a respectable rebounder, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and is as productive of a defender (steals and blocks) as he is sound fundamentally.  I tend to not believe in DRtg being indicative of a player's defensive ability.  That's not the case here; Green is a big part of why Golden State has been so good defensively the last two years.

You want a good isolation defender for the Pistons?  There's none better than Draymond Green, who ranked 1st among players with 100 defensive isolation possessions, only allowing 0.58 points per isolation possession.  Want the Pistons to grab a guy who can defend the other team's best scorer on the low block?  Green's one of the best there as well.  Green only allowed 0.77 points per possession on 232 defensive post-up possessions, ranking 8th among players with a minimum of 150 possessions defended.  Green was also one of the top 10 defenders in pick-and-roll scenarios this year, allowing a mere 0.84 points per possession against the roll man.  Oh, and if you limit the leaderboard to players with at least 50 defensive possessions against the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll scenario, Green was the top defender in that regard as well, only allowing 0.63 points per possession.  If you were wondering why some people were very upset that Green didn't win Defensive Player of the Year, now you know.

Green was already a high quality defender before this season; the difference between year two and year three was Green's progression on offense.  It's also the reason that some people like me are at least a little bit leery of paying Green max money this offseason.  Green was solid as a spot-up shooter, connecting on 33.7% of his threes, of which a whopping 100% were assisted, according to Basketball-Reference.  If you take out this year's stellar regular season shooting and look at Green's 336 attempts across his first two seasons and three years worth of playoffs, he's only a 30% three point shooter.  There are legitimate concerns that what Green provided from beyond the three point line will be hit-or-miss from here on out.  In specific offensive situations, there isn't really a scenario where Green stands out.  When you have Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, you don't run plays for Draymond Green.  In his limited exposure, Green produced some mediocre numbers in both isolation and post-up situations.  He's respectable as the roll-man in PnR plays, but how much of that can be attributed to the terror caused by Golden State's backcourt?  Draymond Green's defense would be the reason you give him a max contract; his offense is the reason I think he shouldn't get one.  The bright side here is, Green is only 25 years old and may still have something in the tank we haven't seen yet.  I just don't think you can put big money into a potential one-way player.

Normally I would spend some time in this space talking about what kind of deal Draymond Green might get.  In this scenario, it's going to take a max contract for Golden State to not match.  If Draymond Green is playing in Detroit next season, it will be on a four year deal worth over $60M.

Give or take a little bit, the Pistons are going to have about $25M to play with this offseason.  A deal that sees Draymond Green receive $16M per season would leave Detroit with $9M to fill their other holes (SF, backup C, general depth), barring any trades.  If the Pistons are going to invest in Draymond Green, they need to have a starting-caliber SF ready.  Green is good, but he isn't going to vault the Pistons into the playoffs on his own.  If you're going to spend on Green, you have to make other improvements too.  Here's what a successful offseason built around signing Draymond Green might look like:

  • PF Draymond Green: 4 years, $64M
  • SF Gerald Green: 2 years, $11M
  • C Alexis Ajinca: 3 years, $5M
  • C Greg Stiemsma: 2 years, $2.1M
Assuming the Pistons decide to draft their other need at SF, and fill out the roster with a PF in the 2nd round, they may be left with a depth chart that looks like this (it's assumed Stanley Johnson or Mario Hezonja is the pick at 8 and Richaun Holmes is the pick at 38):

Reggie Jackson
Brandon Jennings
Spencer Dinwiddie
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Jodie Meeks
Cartier Martin
Gerald Green
Quincy Miller
Draymond Green
Anthony Tolliver
Richaun Holmes
Andre Drummond
Alexis Ajinca
Greg Stiemsma

I'm not wild about that group, mostly because Gerald Green is spotty at SF, but there is more flexibility than what's portrayed in this simple offseason simulation.  The Pistons could free up some cap space by moving Jennings in a trade, or by choosing not to bring back Anthony Tolliver, who is on a non-guaranteed deal.  With that being said, I don't like what this lineup looks like in Draymond's first year.  It would certainly be a placeholder year until the cap skyrockets and the team has more options to improve the quality of the roster through and through.  This isn't meant to capture the best-case scenario built around signing Draymond Green, but to show what your general options are if that move is made.  Would there be enough cap space left to sign a quality SF if Draymond Green is brought on board on a max deal?

I've been pretty adamant that I don't want Draymond Green on a max contract.  His value on the defensive end of the floor is impressive, but he may be a complete non-factor offensively outside of the comfortable confines of the Golden State Warriors offense.  If Steph Curry and Klay Thompson aren't there to keep the defense honest, can Draymond Green do enough offensively to justify a max contract?  I don't think giving Green a huge contract would be the worst thing in the world, but there are smarter moves to be made for a franchise that hasn't seen the playoffs in over half a decade.  It may just be best for both parties if Green stays in Golden State, where his offense can hide and his defense can truly shine.

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