Here is a link to my Friday column about Draymond Green and Anthony Davis. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — Draymond Green took offense. Took offense right there in the Warriors’ gym on Thursday afternoon.
I asked him about Anthony Davis, the guy they call Unibrow, the best player on the New Orleans Pelicans, the man Green will guard starting Saturday in the playoffs. Eavesdrop on our conversation.
“Do you know Anthony Davis?” I asked — innocently, I thought.
“Yes,” Green said. Just one word, yes. His voice was suspicious.
“Do you talk to him?” I asked.
“Talk to him how?”
How? This was getting serious.
“Well, Andrew Bogut said he won’t even talk to him, so I wonder do you say, ‘Hello. How are you? How’s the family?’ ”
By the way, Bogut really said he doesn’t talk to opponents. Not just Davis. All opponents. Bogut shook his head dismissively on the topic of small talk. Out of the question. In Bogut’s lexicon “opponent” and “enemy” are synonyms.
Green listened to my question. A fierce, almost angry look took hold of his face.
“No,” he said. “Are you saying we’re supposed to be on the court and be like friends, like good friends?”
Actually, I hadn’t said anything of the kind. I merely had asked a question.
“I notice before games the guys usually tap hands and say something,” I said.
“I’ll say wassup,” Green conceded. “But I’m not really worried about how his 5-year-old cousin is doing. Of course, I’ll say wassup. But whatever else it’s not like a life-or-death situation to where we’re in a war killing each other and don’t care if the guy survives or not. That’s not the case. Yeah, I’ll say wassup.”
Wow, somehow we had arrived at war. At least, Green will say wassup before the opening jump ball. But that could be risky. Davis might take him literally and explain his 5-year-old cousin just learned to ride a bike and is practicing his letters.
But Green had made his point. He’s not friendly with Anthony Davis. Davis is an impediment to Green and the Warriors. Davis is young — just 22 — but he is among the best players in the NBA. No exaggeration. And Davis is Green’s responsibility, Green looking at tape after tape of Davis. Green becoming an expert on Davis.
“Watching him, what you tend to figure out he don’t have a go-to move,” Green said. “A lot of people will say that’s bad. I say it’s probably better because he can do so much. You can’t necessarily prepare to stop one move. You’ve got to guard him straight up or make him take tough shots. You can’t just take away one thing and it’s going to affect him.”
That was high praise. It meant Davis is multifaceted. It meant Green is thinking about him all the time. Thinking like him. It meant Green is learning to be Davis so he can Un-Davis Davis.
It also meant Green is defensive where defending Davis is concerned. “I don’t really get what you’re getting at with these questions,” he said to me.
It’s clear what Green was getting at. He knows he has a serious matchup with Davis, Davis who scored 31 on Wednesday and grabbed 13 boards and led the Pelicans into the playoffs by beating San Antonio — a game New Orleans was supposed to lose. Green knows Davis’ Player Efficiency Rating is off the charts, 30.8.
It’s higher than Stephen Curry’s rating. Higher than Russell Westbrook’s. It’s almost at the Michael Jordan level — Jordan’s rating was 31-plus four seasons in a row. Davis’ number almost doubles Green’s number. Davis is the next great player in the NBA. The only issue right now is his youth.
All that explains why Green limits his remarks to wassup, isn’t his charming self where Davis is concerned.
But in a way, Green vs. Davis doesn’t matter. In a way, it is not the key issue. Listen to Bogut on Davis, whom he called “one of the best players in the NBA.”
“He’s going to score points,” Bogut said. “He’s their guy. We don’t mind that too much. It’s about stopping the other guys. I think we match up pretty well against them. I think defense will be the No. 1 thing. We’ll be able to get stops when we need to get stops.”
Bogut was saying the Warriors can win by defeating Davis’ supporting cast, by stopping — or limiting — Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Quincy Pondexter. These are “B” players. Not “A” players. And the Warriors are filled with “A” players. In fact, Sports Illustrated gave the Pelicans a “B” grade for the season. What did SI give the Warriors? “A-plus-plus.”
The Warriors are a better defensive team than the Pelicans, who are only so-so. The Warriors have everything they need to beat New Orleans in, say, five games. Have everything to go all the way. It doesn’t mean they will go all the way.
They have things to remember.
The playoffs are a second season, a long season that lasts two months. The Pelicans and every other team the Warriors face — if they face other teams — will take Curry out of the game. Try to take Curry out. Double team him at halfcourt. Hit him. Rough him up. Curry will get his points, but Klay Thompson must rise up. And Harrison Barnes must rise up. No opponent will concede anything.
That’s the beauty of the NBA playoffs. The Warriors’ franchise-best 67 wins are now officially irrelevant. Or as Bogut said of the Pelicans, “Sixty-seven wins doesn’t mean crap going into a seven-game series against anyone. They don’t care what we won. We don’t get an extra pat on the back before the series starts. We get home court, and that’s about it. They’re not going to come in and give us the series just because we had a good regular season.”
True, but they may give you a wassup.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn firstname.lastname@example.org.