A six-foot-seven utility man who can out-duel you with his finesse as easily as he can overpower you with his strength, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is one of those players who’s impossible to compartmentalize.
Whether it’s on the break or on the block, he has the smarts and the skill set to pick and choose whatever move in his arsenal most benefits his Warriors at that particular moment, whether that’s playing the part of a big man and backing down his defender or showing point guard-like vision and hitting the open man with a beauty of a dime.
Ask Green where he learns and internalizes his array of moves, and he’ll have an answer ready. But unexpectedly, he doesn't take cues just from teammate Stephen Curry. Or from 2015 Finals rival LeBron James. Instead, he looks to the WNBA. As Lee Jenkins penned in this week's Sports Illustrated feature:
"In the NBA there's always a guy who is only around because he can jump," Green says. "He doesn't have a clue about the fundamentals. I learn more from the WNBA. They know how to dribble, how to pivot, how to use the shot fake."
Often shortchanged when compared with the men’s game, the WNBA produces a form of the sport more true to its roots, as Green began to mention. Likening the NBA and WNBA is a matter of apples and oranges -- and it’s, well, fruitless to compare two strains of the game with such different DNA. Green has it right -- there’s no need to learn from one league at the exclusion of the other, and the very best in the world can and should pick up tricks of the trade wherever they manage to find them.
As Golden State has shown us this year, the NBA is ever adapting and ever advancing. And, via Green, it seems that the league’s best-ever regular season team has evolved and improved thanks in part to watching the women take the floor.
Happy 20th season, WNBA.