When you think of some of the best defenders to ever play this game, a couple of names come to mind. Bill Russell, Dennis Rodman, and Scottie Pippen are the first I think of. But it seems that the Warriors forward Draymond Green thinks he is above that company when it comes to defensive ability.
Green has never been shy with his statements, so this doesn't come as a surprise. While speaking on the NBC Sports Bay Area Podcast, Draymond claimed he is the best defender of all-time and why he thinks that is:
“I think I'm the best defender to ever play this game. I stand by that; I'd put myself up against anyone. I also think I view the game a lot differently than most people view the game because I think I just see it from a different perspective. I think when you look at the things that make a good defender: Reaction time, toughness, being able to see the picture long before it develops, and most importantly, in order to finish a defensive possession, you got to rebound; and I think I rebound well.”
Draymond Green, Dubs Talk
Green's statement, of course, caused some traction and discussions in the NBA world. A lot of people felt the need to pitch in, including the former NBA player and one of the best perimeter defenders ever, Tony Allen.
The experienced Allen disagreed with Draymond. He implied Green wasn't good enough 1-on-1 to be the defensive GOAT. Dray brushed him off because of the 2015 Playoff series between the Warriors and the Grizzlies, in which Allen's inability on offense was used to get past the Grizzlies. You have to take the opinion of Tony Allen seriously, especially when talking about defense. After all, this is a guy players like Kobe and KD said was their toughest defensive matchup ever, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. To me, it seems Draymond and Allen are both pushing a perspective that suits them better. Allen was great in a 1-on-1 defender; Draymond excels as a team defender and floor general.
When you look at Green's resume, it is definitely impressive, but is it enough to put him at the very top of defenders? Dray won the DPOY award back in 2017, led the league in steals the same year, and managed to get 5 All-Defensive honors in his career. He believes he should get the award this year, but he has some stiff competition in Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons. When you look at the pure numbers, it's not a lock. But the eye-test will tell you that Draymond's game and defense go beyond the numbers.
Being the vocal leader, instructing his guys, having the speed to switch onto guards, and being strong enough to handle bigs down low is just the start. To add to that, Green has a good feeling for when to block a shot or steal the ball even though he is not the quickest or bounciest player. To round it all off, Dray is always a menace on the boards. His defensive ability made The Death Lineup a thing, and that can't be overlooked.
Even though he is often scrutinized, at just 6'6'', Green is a fantastic defender, but in my opinion, not the best ever. He can definitely find his spot in the Top 10. It's good to have confidence, but you have to be realistic sometimes.