Max123 wrote:Glad to see this thread somewhat revived. I have a question:
What’s stopping Draymond from reaching the all time pantheon of defenders (excluding Russell as an anomaly) among the likes of Hakeem, Robinson, Garnett, Duncan and others? Don’t his defensive numbers (on/off and adjusted plusminus data) support this conclusion both in terms or regular season and postseason?
I get that he doesn’t really play like the other defensive atg’s (he is closest to Garnett in style) in the sense that he isn’t a rim protector to the same extent that they are. Yet, from what I’ve seen anyways, he seems GOAT/alltime-level in basically all of the other defensive subskills and he looks amazing on film overall.
Is there more against Draymond other than that he isn’t an atg rim protector in the traditional sense of getting blocks? If so I am personally willing to consider him among the very best defensive players of all time: closer to top 5 all time than the top 10/15 where he is usually assigned to.
This is me talking about his defensive peak/prime with not too much consideration for length of either. Would love to hear answers to this.
I'll attempt to answer coming from the point of view of someone who considers Draymond a great defensive player.
There are several things that come to mind when assessing Draymond vs ATG defensive bigs.
-- Rebounding. There are several ways to end a successful defensive possession -- steals, offensive fouls, other turnovers, blocks, and rebounds -- but defensive rebounding is essential. The Warriors in the Kerr era have been a generally good rebounding team, but they do it by gang rebounding rather than relying on one or two guys. Draymond's best season was 9.5 RPG, 7.8 DRPG, and 23.0 DRB%. Draymond is a very good rebounder, but the ATG bigs are significantly better.
-- Rim protection is definitely part of it, and it's more than blocks. Most of the ATG big defenders mentioned were good at blocking shots but also impactful at deterring the opponent from even attempting shots in the paint. Draymond doesn't strike fear in the opponent's heart at the rim.
-- Defending the best bigs, particularly big, strong bigs. Draymond does an excellent job at this, especially for someone his height, but he can be overpowered at the rim. With the death lineups, they made opponent bigs unplayable because Draymond could defend them well enough on the defensive end and would clown them on the offensive end. Opponent bigs are mobile enough and don't like to defend in space, so Draymond setting a pick for Steph would mean the big hanging back and Steph getting an open three. Draymond is good enough at the defensive end to prevent opponent bigs from punishing the Warriors, so opponents sub out their big to get someone who can defend in space and play the PnR. But that's for relatively few minutes per game, and during the bulk of minutes, Draymond is going to do a good job against opponent bigs, but not like ATG defensive bigs can.
Draymond does have advantages over most ATG defensive bigs:
-- He defends much better in space and can guard smaller players better.
-- Draymond is spectacularly great at the current style of defensive play that uses switching and rotations, both in what he does as part of that defense and in being the quarterback of the defense. Many of the ATG defensive bigs mentioned played in prior eras where centers were tasked with sticking with the opponent center, helping with rim protection, and rebounding, which is the classic defensive anchor center. Draymond would be a great defender in those eras, but his impact is maximized in the current style of play.
A question in ranking him compared to other ATG defensive bigs is how you factor in portability across eras vs impact in the era a player played in. You can say that Draymond wouldn't be as impactful in prior eras, but I think it's fair to say defensive bigs like Mutombo would be less effective in the current era. Really mobile guys like Hakeem and Robinson would be great in either era. Russell would dominate just as much in this era, and maybe even more, as hard as that is to fathom.