WASHINGTON — When Draymond Green returned from his back injury on March 14 that sidelined him for 11 weeks, the hope was that the Warriors were getting back a major puzzle piece to their success. In the second half of his return game, Stephen Curry sprained his foot, making Green’s presence that much more important.
But since Green returned to the lineup, he has been struggling. In the seven games since his return, Green has a minus-41 plus-minus, the third worst among players over that span who have logged a similar number of minutes.
Green didn’t play in the only game the Warriors have won since he returned. He will also most likely miss Golden State’s game in Memphis on Monday.
In the Warriors’ most recent loss to the Wizards, Green finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals but was a minus-20. His self-criticism in Washington was as harsh as Green has been on himself in a long time.
And it wasn’t just the words he said, but the manner in which he said them.
His posture was slumped and his voice flat — a stark contrast to his usually animated demeanor.
“I feel terrible,” he said. “I feel healthy, but I feel terrible.”
Even in his tough review of himself, Green understands the context in which he is feeling this way. He doesn’t know if there is such thing as a switch that can turn one’s game on or off, but if there is, the 11 weeks he missed was surely it.
“I am aware that I came off a very serious injury for 11 weeks,” he said. “Seven or eight of them I couldn’t even touch the ball. So in being critical of myself, I am aware. I don’t give a f—, I’m still a competitor.”
“You put in the work to be great. So regardless of what the circumstances are, I still think and know I can produce great performances. And I haven’t done that. So that’s the expectations of myself for myself.”
Green said the game is moving “a million miles an hour” for him, while Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he doesn’t have the speed, bounce or rhythm he normally has.
That being said, there were glimpses of it in the second half.
“I don’t think we were worse with me on the floor in the second half,” Green said.
Green’s energy picked up immensely in the second half — he picked up all of his steals during the final two quarters. At one point, he picked up three fouls on Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis on the same possession, and a few minutes later he picked up a technical. But, to the Warriors, this was a sign of life.
“I thought his competitiveness in the second half was great. I liked that he was mixing it up out there,” Kerr said. “We showed more life in the second half than we did in the first, and a big reason for that was Draymond.”
Green isn’t someone known for his patience. As he said, he doesn’t like to use the time he missed as an excuse for why he’s playing poorly. He knows that without Curry, Golden State needs him for the final stretch of the season.
The Warriors are taking the same outlook on Green as they are on the team as a whole — get it right by the time the playoffs start. Some of the areas Golden State needs to iron out will get fixed in real time during the postseason, but in Green’s case, the Warriors are confident it’ll take just a few more games.
“I’ve just got to grind my way out of it,” Green said. “Make plays and impact the game. That’s why I feel like I’ve been terrible. I don’t feel like my impact has been on the game when it needs to be and normally is. I just got to work my way out of it. Chip away at it every time I step on the court.”