How a single injury planted the seed for the Warriors dynasty

How a single injury planted the seed for the Warriors dynasty

Sometimes it only takes one person to believe in you to change your life forever. For Draymond Green, that someone was Steve Kerr. But even he needed a push to do it.

The Warriors took Green 35th overall in the ’13 NBA Draft, with many pegging him to be positionless in the NBA. Draymond played power forward at Michigan State University, showing flashes of playmaking ability and displaying a great variety as a defender. However, his frame didn’t fit the parameters of your archetypal NBA PF.

Back then, positions in the NBA were much more standardized. You had your guards, your forwards, and your centers without significant deviations within categories. Frame-wise, Draymond was supposed to play at the three, and that’s exactly how he was utilized. Mark Jackson refused to play Draymond “out of position,” and the upstroke was this: 4.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.3 APG in Dray’s first two seasons in the league. That’s when Steve Kerr entered the picture.

The rookie coach inserted Green into the starting lineup at the start of the 14-15 regular season, playing him as a non-traditional four alongside Andrew Bogut. At times, he even played him at the five, giving us a sneak peek of what would later become an all-time great NBA dynasty. But Kerr’s brilliant basketball mind wasn’t the only reason he gave Draymond a chance. As I said, even he needed a push to do it.

Before Dray, David Lee was the Warriors’ starting power forward. He was the team’s highest-paid player and one of the most important contributors on the roster. But before the start of the 14/15 regular season, in Golden State’s final preseason game against the Nuggets, Lee suffered a hamstring injury which sidelined him for a couple of weeks. The 2x All-Star made his debut on Nov. 5 only to aggravate his injury six minutes into the game against the Clippers. Since then, Lee only started in 4 games for Golden State before getting traded to the Celtics in the summer of ’15.

Draymod took his starting spot, and the rest is history. Over the years, he became the cornerstone of the group that revolutinized the game of basketball, imposing himself as one of the best defenders in the association. And don’t get me wrong, Kerr deserves the most credit for that. But Lee’s injury is the close second. That’s what planted the seed for the Warriors dynasty as we know it.