Draymond Green

Why Redick argues Dubs can't compete for title without Dray

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There's still no word on whether or not Draymond Green will be back with the Warriors next season, but ESPN's JJ Redick believes the team's championship chances depend on it.

The "First Take" analyst argued Wednesday that Golden State's hopes to win the next NBA Finals hinge upon Green's $27.6 million player option for the 2023-24 season, telling host Molly Qerim the Warriors "absolutely" cannot contend without the former Defensive Player of the Year.

"Draymond is so important to everything they do on both sides of the basketball, defensively, specifically," Redick said. "What we saw last year was a non-elite defense from the Golden State Warriors. They get beat at the point of attack too much, they foul too much, they hovered around 15th all season long in defensive rating – and yet, Draymond Green had another elite defensive season.

"He is the anchor of that defense. When the Golden State Warriors have contended, it’s because they had a great defense. You lose him, with really no way to replace him, you’re not winning an NBA championship."

Green averaged 8.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 2022-23, earning NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors and finishing fourth in DPOY voting. He helped the Warriors reach the Western Conference semifinals, but the 33-year-old forward blamed his preseason punch of teammate Jordan Poole as part of the reason for Golden State's second-round playoff exit.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made a statement similar to Redick's shortly after Golden State was eliminated, underscoring Green's importance to the team's championship culture.

“Look, if Draymond is not back, we're not a championship contender,” Kerr said. “We know that. He's that important to winning and to who we are. I absolutely want him back.”

Despite the team's struggles this past season, some pundits, like Redick's ESPN colleague Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, see the Warriors as top contenders for next season's NBA title. But Redick considers Golden State an "around-the-edges" team, which could contend in 2023-24 depending on how their offseason goes.

That includes the 2023 NBA Draft -- and recent reports suggest the Warriors could make a big move. ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported Wednesday, citing sources, that the Warriors are exploring the option of acquiring a high draft pick in exchange for a young prospect, such as 20-year-old forward Jonathan Kuminga.

But no matter who Golden State drafts or ends up signing in free agency, Redick doesn't see the team putting it all together without Green.

It appears likely the 11-year NBA veteran will be back, however, as The Athletic's Shams Charania and Anthony Slater reported shortly after Golden State's playoff exit, citing sources, the Warriors plan on discussing a multiyear contract extension with the four-time champion this offseason.

Until that happens or Green announces his return, Dub Nation will have to wait patiently to see if one-third of their dynastic core comes back. Because Redick certainly was right about one thing -- there's only one Draymond Green.

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