During a 15-minute discussion with reporters after practice on Monday, the Golden State Warriors forward faced a barrage of questions about the Rockets. Green praised Houston GM Daryl Morey for adding Chris Paul and living up to his word “to take more risks” in order to keep up with the Warriors.
The NBA‘s reigning Defensive Player of the Year even pumped the breaks on challenging Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni’s suggestion that Golden State can’t stop the high-powered Houston offense.
Mike D'Antoni on Warriors: "You're not gonna stop them. It's just not gonna happen. They're not gonna stop us either. Should be fun."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 5, 2017
“I think he should believe that. I don’t know,” Green said, stopping his train of thought before it went off the rails, as he is wont to do. “Yeah, I think he should believe that. I’m turning over a new leaf.”
But the questions kept coming. How does Draymond read that comment from D’Antoni?
“They want it to be a shoot out, which is fine,” Green said. “But we’re going to play some defense. We score pretty well, but we’re a damn good defensive team, too. So, we’re going to play some defense.”
Does Draymond think the Rockets are better defensively this season than they were last, when Houston ranked below-average in defensive rating, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessions?
“I think when you look at their roster changes, it will equal being a better defensive team,” he said, praising the additions of Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, while also recognizing that the departure of First Team All-Defensive guard Patrick Beverley could factor into that equation, too.
That’s not so bad. Not from the guy who had a profane take last week on Morey’s suggestion this past June that the Warriors “are not unbeatable. There have been bigger upsets in sports history.” From GQ:
“What the f*** are you talking about?” he says to me. “They are really trying to rethink their whole strategy” — here he bumps a table repeatedly with his hand for emphasis, getting excited — “because teams know they don’t have a f***ing clue.”
Draymond saw that comment explode across the blogosphere last week, so it seemed on Monday he was less willing to provide more bulletin-board material for Houston. But Green couldn’t help himself:
“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” the all-everything big man added of D’Antoni’s comments, “but I know they definitely added some good defensive players.”
The Warriors held the Rockets to 101.5 points per 100 possessions in four meetings last season — roughly the same defensive rating they posted throughout the 2016-17 campaign, which ranked second to the San Antonio Spurs last season. Only the Atlanta Hawks, who held Houston to 95.7 points per 100 possessions in two games, owned a better defensive rating against the Rockets last season.
Asked for the recipe to Golden State’s success on that end — a top-five defensive rating each of the past four years — Green wasn’t about to offer the Rockets a helping hand after knocking them down a peg: “What else do they need to do to be as good as us? I don’t know. That’s for them to figure out.”
There isn’t much time for Houston to right the ship. The Rockets visit the Warriors for opening night in a matter of hours, when Morey and company will have to watch another Golden State ring ceremony.
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