How Draymond Green Feels About Starting At Center


Steve Kerr appears to be going all-in on small yet again, amidst a pretty disappointing 2023-24 season for his Golden State Warriors. Dubs forward Draymond Green has been transitioned to a gig as the team’s starting center. Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes that this decision seems to have improved Golden State’s Jonathan Kuminga-Andrew Wiggins tandem. Across 377 minutes together, Kuminga, Wiggins and Green are registering a plus-70.

At all of 6’6″, the Warriors big man is striving to stay healthy while manning the middle against taller, bigger traditional centers. He’s been dealing with lower back pain on and off for the last week. Green explained the challenge of the gig, as Slater relays.

“It’s definitely more taxing because at the five you are involved in every possession,” Green said. “At the four, fours don’t crash [the boards] every time. You may not have to box out every possession.”

“At the five, you got to box out every play,” Green said. “Fives are trying to get the ball every play. Even something as simple as that, let’s call it 20 more box outs a game. That’s contact. That’s a battle. So it’s definitely more taxing. But I’m cut out for it.”

Draymond Green
Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after being ejected for a flagrant foul during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on December 12, 2023…

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“I can do it. I’m cut out for it,” Green asserted confidently. “I don’t overly worry about it because I know we have fives that are perfectly capable of taking over and doing what we need them to do. It’s not something I think about.”

His head coach certainly seems to think so, too, while noting that Green’s newly revitalized floor spacing ability also enables him to play a bit of stretch four. The 34-year-old is connecting on 39% of his 2.4 triple attempts a night. It represents his best such conversion rate ever, and his first above 35% since 2015-16, Green’s first All-Star season. Kerr has thus been playing the future Hall of Famer minimal minutes (69 across 16 contests, Slater wrote on March 21st) as a sharpshooting power forward alongside 6’9″ big man Trayce Jackson-Davis. Kerr maintains, however, that Green is more a center than anything else these days.

“He’s best suited at the five in the modern game,” Kerr said. “Everybody spreads you out and makes so many 3s. But we are playing Draymond with Trayce for a handful of minutes. We like that defensively. We like that Trayce can be the lob guy and Draymond can space the floor.”

This year, Golden State is 36-33, currently just two games ahead of the No. 11-seeded Houston Rockets (34-35). It will need Green, its best defender, healthy if it wants to secure the tenth seed and a play-in berth in the Western Conference. The eight-time All-Defensive big man would probably have been in line for his ninth such appearance this year, but injuries and suspensions have already cost him a prohibitive 25 games.