Draymond Green can be a handful for a coach, but Golden State Warriors skipper Steve Kerr has found a way to coexist — and thrive — with his fiery forward.
With the Warriors one win away from a championship, despite some criticism of the former Defensive Player of the Year, Kerr sent a strong message about his relationship with Green.
“I think everything was kind of overhyped because that’s what happens with Finals, there’s just so much coverage,” Kerr said during an appearance on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday. “He played really well in Game 4. He made big plays on the track. He ended up having almost double digit assists and rebounds, he had a lot of steals.”
Green is averaging just 5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the finals and is fighting mightily on offense. However, as Kerr points out, Green’s contributions go well beyond the box score.
“His defensive power in the last two games has just been devastating and is always key to our identity on the defensive side of things. Draymond was great,” Kerr said. “There will always be a lot of gossip, good and bad. You just roll it around. He did well. He responded well to all that stuff and he responded well to us.”
Green can be a hothead at times and doesn’t mind racking up technical fouls. But he doesn’t feel like he’s too different from his head coach, who also has that side.
“I think we just hit it off,” Green said when asked how the relationship went on on his podcast, The Draymond Green Show. “We understand we have a very similar fire, he knows how to push my buttons, he knows when I need to be pulled aside and spoken to. I know when to pull him aside and talk to him. I think the way our relationship has changed or evolved over the years, there’s just a huge sense of trust, there’s a lot of understanding and we rely on each other.”
Kerr agrees with Green’s assessment of their relationship and how it has grown over the years and championship runs.
“Draymond is on it,” Kerr said. “What’s similar to us is that we’re kind of insane in our competitiveness. We’ve clashed over the years because of this competition, this level of competition. I think our relationship has never been better.”
While Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and others get the credit, Kerr circled Green as the catalyst in their championship equation.
“You can’t win without a guy like that,” Kerr said. “I like this challenge he gives me every day to make sure I’m on the cutting edge and I try to do the same for him.”
Green spoke more about Kerr during his press conference on Wednesday and praised his head coach for staying balanced even when times were tough. That mentality carries over to the team, who have been able to remain resilient at times this postseason, even when very down.
“There are times when we’re a little rattled as a team and he’s right there, constant force, like hey man, just calm down, calm down,” Green told reporters. “And it wasn’t always like that. It wasn’t always that you never, ever saw him shaken. He’s just in those moments, that gives us so much confidence.”
Green and the Warriors are slight underdogs going into Game 6 in Boston, with the Celtics going four-point favorites.