Golden State Warriors Must Retain Draymond Green to Stay Elite
Last season, Golden State Warriors combo forward Draymond Green broke out in a big way. After a quiet rookie season, the former Spartan outplayed both two-time All-Star David Lee and lottery pick Harrison Barnes to carve himself a spot in the Dubs’ starting five during the playoffs.
Green proved to be a jack of all trades, capable of rebounding, passing, protecting the rim and playing on-ball defense at high levels. Per 36 minutes, Green averaged 10.2 points, 3.0 assists, 8.2 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.4 blocks; the only other player to do that in his sophomore season was The Round Mound of Rebound, Charles Barkley. Green’s playoff stats per 36 were even gaudier; his 13.1 points, 3.2 assists, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.9 blocks helped the Dubs overcome defensive anchor Andrew Bogut’s absence and push the Los Angeles Clippers to a Game 7. No other player has replicated that performance.
Green is signed on his rookie deal through next season, and the Warriors need to make sure they withhold some cap space so they can re-sign him. While he did turn some heads with his play during the playoffs this season, Green is still an extraordinarily slept-on asset who will likely be undervalued on the open market. The chart below depicts Green’s projected value, based on wagesofwins.com’s projected cost per win for a team that fits the profile of the Warriors and John Hollinger’s Estimated Wins Added (EWA) statistic. Through his first two seasons, Green has not played 36 minutes a game, but I have adjusted as such, as he likely will be playing close to 36 minutes per game for the next few seasons after last season’s breakout performance. Unlike shooting guards like Klay Thompson, whose contract situation I detailed here, forwards like Green tend to keep getting better through their first eight seasons, so the 23-year-old will likely continue to improve through the end of his next contract. Green is actually projected to merit an eight-figure salary by 2019 and will be worth approximately $35 million, or about $9 million a year, from 2015 through 2019.
The good news for the Warriors is that the market does not appear to value Green at $9 million a year at this point, and Golden State may be able to lock him down for a huge discount price. I have thrown out what I felt like was a good estimate of what the market will pin Green’s value at next season at $5.5 million a year and have illustrated the return the Warriors would get on his contract if they could lock Green up on a $22 million, four-year deal. Green has already provided the Warriors with a huge return on his rookie contract, and the front office would be smart to lock up their undervalued asset for the long term following next season.
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