Draymond Green is an easy person to talk to, but one aspect of conversing with him is difficult: you have to consistently fight the urge to ask him about everything. Green is among the most thoughtful and passionate players in all of basketball, someone who can’t help but take natural pauses in his speech as he considers the weight of every word that will he will say in response to a question.
Of course, this hyper-meticulous nature is what has made Green go from a decorated college player at Michigan State, to a little-used second-round NBA Draft selection, to one of the most uniquely talented players in all of basketball, a two-way maestro who can score four points and find a way to make more winning plays than anyone else on the court. And if you’ve ever seen him speak, or tweet, or do just about anything, you know that Green cannot help but say exactly what he means in a kind of blunt, straightforward way that can be refreshing if you’re used to talking to people who talk around what they want to say.
Before the Golden State Warriors got the second half of the season underway, Dime caught up with Green on behalf of Subway (his sub has steak) to discuss the first half of the year, some of the young guys on the team’s roster, what he wants the media to understand about NBA players, and more.
Just in general, could you take me through this Warriors season so far? Where you’re happy, where you want to see improvement, whatever comes to mind when you hear that question.
I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re happy we’re 19-18, and feel like we have definitely let some games get away that shouldn’t have. So I wouldn’t necessarily say happy, but what I would say is, from who this team is today and who we were two and a half months ago is complete night and day. And that is exciting, and understanding the potential of this team. We’re a very young team, not a lot of experience, and even less experience together.
I think when you look at the young talent that we have along with myself, Steph, Looney who’s been here a while, I think we haven’t gotten near reaching out potential yet. I think this team has the makeup and the pieces to be a great defensive team, and I think at times, we’ve shown that. I also think due to inexperience at times, you watch a game and the defense is non-existent. But that’s usually what comes with a very young team.
Going into the second half of the season, right on the outside of the playoffs looking in, I think we’re in a great spot and go ahead and continue to grow and make this push and try and get into the playoffs and make some noise, which I have no doubt we will.
I actually wanted to ask about a collection of those young guys, the first would be James [Wiseman]. I think any time I watch you two play, one thing that really sticks out is how much you personally are putting into his development. What is it about him that makes you go “all this work is going to be worth it”?
Number one, the kid has an insane amount of talent. Doesn’t even understand the amount of talent that he has. And as someone who’s been in this league for, now, nine years, you can see when someone’s got it, and he’s got it. And so that is exciting for me.
Another thing that’s very exciting, for me, as someone who likes to mentor, who likes to show younger guys, younger kids, the way. And I don’t just mean in basketball, I mean in life as well. But as someone who enjoys that side of things, I’ve never, because of the success that this team has had, I have never played with someone 19 years old with the potential that James has. And you know, nowadays you get a lot of 19 year olds with that type of potential that’s been on social media kind of taking all of the fake praise in, heads blowing up this big, and don’t quite listen. This kid is extremely grounded, his mom did an incredible job raising him, he’s so thirsty for information — he wants to know, he’s asking questions non-stop.
And so it’s just refreshing to see someone like that, with that skill level, that grounded. I understand that he can be a perennial All-Star in this league, he can be a real game-changer in this league, and just want to pour into him all that I can to give him the best chance to be successful as someone who’s a product of great vets — Jarrett Jack, David West, Jermaine O’Neal, Carl Landry, David Lee, [Andrew] Bogut, Richard Jefferson. As someone who’s a product of great veterans, I think I owe it to the game of basketball, I owe it to my career, to give it back to the next young guys.
I’m glad you mentioned that, because I wanted to ask about a group of guys who got a ton of run last year — Eric [Paschall], Juan [Toscano-Anderson], Mychal [Mulder]. Obviously last year was a rough year with injuries, but how does going through something like that help those guys get to a point where, now, they are part of the rotation of a team that is going to have championship aspirations?
I think it’s great for them. EP had a great rookie year, I think he was first-team All-Rookie. Fantastic to watch, second-round pick and to come out and have the season that he had I think was amazing, you quickly saw the potential who he could be, and that’s been great.
Juan T., I love Juan, man. A guy who got out the mud, who played in Mexico and played overseas. I think Juan, his senior year of college, maybe averaged six or seven points, and now he’s in the NBA contributing on an NBA team. The doubt that he’s faced his entire career, even coming into this season, he signed a two-way contract, he didn’t sign a standard NBA contract. He signed a two-way contract, but has that Oakland mentality — blue collar, gonna do whatever it takes to get it, as we say, get it out the mud. So I love that about Juan.
Mikey, same thing. A guy who came to our team on a 10-day last year and has played well, but more importantly, is a true professional. It’s been a pleasure having him around, his contract, I think, just got guaranteed a week or so ago. So to see those guys … JP, Jordan, who’s just coming up from his stint in the G League and went down there and dominated the G League Bubble. So just to see these young guys growing, it’s always fun to watch, and I know what that growth could mean for their livelihood. So trying to help in any way I can, I get a lot of pleasure out of it.
While you were going through all that, I was thinking about what you said last year about Marquese — “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these sh*tty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault.” It seems to me like you take a lot of pride in the Warriors not being the kind of franchise that isn’t putting everything possible into helping these guys succeed.
Yeah, obviously the Warriors are a great organization, one of the top organizations in this league, and you can’t say every organization in this league is great. As much as we all want to believe that, that’s garbage. Every organization in this league is not great. And like you said, as you just spoke to about Marquese, no one ever comes out and blames the team. No one ever says, “That team, that organization, screwed up XYZ,” or, “That organization is not good at said area,” and that effects this kid.
It’s always just the kid. The kid can go, and we’ll get someone else, because there’s thousands, hundreds of thousands of us. There’s only 30 teams. So you can’t replace one of the 30, but you can replace the kid like nobody’s tomorrow. So that’s just kind of the nature of the business that we’re in, but no one ever tells that story. It’s like people in the media are afraid of these teams or access that they’ll get if they were to call organizations out and that’s ridiculous.
I respect how you want us in the media to be responsible in our role in the basketball discourse ecosystem. What is the big thing you think we as the media need to understand from the perspective of a player?
I think, number one, it’s understanding just the player side of things. The player side of things and the team side of things are two completely different things. But, in my opinion, media will always side with the teams, because that’s where their direct access comes from. And so, no one is ever going to bite the hand that feeds them.
But the reality is, is what I think media needs to understand most importantly is, your content comes from the players. And so, when you look at where your content comes from, everyone always sides with the team, but we live in a day and age now where I can create my own content just like that. I can go do my own thing and tell my own story just like that.
And so where there once was a day and age where, “team this, team that, protect the organizations, do this, protect the shield, protect the league, protect all of these things,” that day and age is coming to an end, because people like Maverick Carter and LeBron James step up and create an Uninterrupted where guys can tell their own stories. That day and age is coming to an end, and don’t get caught on the wrong side of it, because, the reality is, no one’s covering every move said organization makes on the business side of things, but everyone’s covering every move that said organization makes on the basketball side of things. Said organization’s basketball runs off the performance of the players, and we have this situation of where media comes down pretty hard on players nowadays. But understand that the side is changing and don’t get caught on the wrong side of it.
What do you have going on with Subway?
So Subway, I’m partnering with Subway, it’s been a restaurant that I’ve been fond of since I was a kid. I had my first sub at age 11, and I’ve been loving Subway ever since. Couldn’t really afford it, to get Subway often as a kid, so any time I would get Subway was like a big deal for me. When I got my first job, it was actually right behind a Subway, and so for lunch, I would take my little checks and I would get lunch every day at Subway. It was amazing.
And so to have the opportunity to partner with Subway, a restaurant that I’ve loved since childhood, it’s like a full circle moment for me. And understanding that I was the kid who couldn’t afford Subway as much as I wanted Subway, and Subway doing the promotion where if you use the code BOGO50, you get 50 percent off your second sandwich, I understand, coming from families, that that 50 percent off makes a big difference in everyone eating. I understand that thoroughly.
And so to partner with someone who’s taking those things into consideration, to have my own sandwich, it’s a dream come true for me, because it’s something that has meant a lot to me since I was a child. And I’m very appreciative of the partnership and the opportunity to have my own sandwich for that young kid that is at Subway with his mom and he knows he may not have this Subway again for a long time because they can’t quite afford it. For that young Draymond Green, I am very appreciative of this partnership.