Every team in the NBA needs a good defense to stand the chance of competing for the title just as much as good three point shooters.
In the modern game, leaning on the three point shot has become necessary to score wins quite simply because three points puts more on the boards than two points. But behind scoring and defending, other factors play crucial roles in a basketball that fall under the main categories noted above.
Rebounding, grabbing steals, blocking shots and assisting play important roles in deciding the outcome of games. Some players like Oklahoma City Thunder Forward Paul George tend to be good in a couple of categories-scoring and stealing the ball- while others like Andre Drummond specialize in one category-rebounding.
In the new phase of the ever evolving league, players who thrive in as many as four categories have emerged on the scene and none comes any better than Golden State Warriors Draymond Green. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is a jack of all trades who scores in the paint and way out of it to the three point line.
He also assists and rebounds and does get his fair share of blocks and steals. In this year’s regular season, the 2012 second round pick averaged 11 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists. He continues to do same in the ongoing playoffs with his latest contribution being a 17 point, 19 rebound and seven assist line in Warriors win over San Antonio Spurs.
Winning Game 5 means Golden State will meet New Orleans Pelicans in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. A solid case can be made for Green as the second most important player on the Warriors roster behind Steph Curry despite the presence of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. The Warriors play the way Draymond plays; malleable to tinker with the roster and give opponents problems.
However, Green’s skills are ubiquitous in the famous copy cat league called the NBA and here is a list of playoff teams with their version of the two time NBA Champion:
Ben Simmons-Philadelphia Sixers
Unlike Green who had to wait a couple of seasons to show off his versatile skill set, Simmons didn’t have to wait that long as the top pick for the rebuilding Philadelphia Sixers was plugged in right away. Spearheading a draft class filled with ready to play talents like Donovan Mitchell of Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum, Simmons has delivered in his first season.
Despite drafted first overall in 2016, Simmons did not play a game before this season due to a foot injury. After averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists in the regular season, the 6 foot 10 inch Forward registered the first triple double in the playoffs by a rookie since Magic Johnson did it decades ago. Recording 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, Simmons led Sixers to a crucial Game 4 win that effectively sealed his team’s progress to the second round.
Joe Ingles –Utah Jazz
Another Australian albeit elder statesman makes the list as Utah Jazz Forward Joe Ingles status as an underrated player plays into his hands as he breaks teams down with assorted bag of tricks from down under. While Mitchell and occasionally Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert steal the headlines, Ingles name rarely does aside many cringing at Utah for handing him a four year, $52 million contract at the start of this season.
He averaged 11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in the regular season before digging his way under Paul George’s skin while scoring 20 and 21 points in Game 3 and Game 4 against OKC respectively.
Marcus Smart-Boston Celtics
Celtics backup Point Guard whose role has been elevated to a starting one is as polarizing as his numbers and fit in this list. His woeful shooting numbers make him a liability on offense but his contributions on defense harassing opposing players, deflecting passes and recovering loose balls makes him a major plus. He does put in a good shift distributing the ball as his 4.8 assists per game in the regular season suggest; he registered 10.2 points and 3.5 rebounds.
He has been largely absent missing 19 games in the season dealing with a slew of injuries but he returned to lead Boston to win Game 5 in the heated series against Milwaukee Bucks. Smart put in nine points, five rebounds and four assists and a couple of blocks in 25 minutes stuffing the stat sheet along the way in the win. His varied ways of contributing could land him a big contract this offseason like Ingles.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter