The number of truly transcendent players on the Golden State Warriors evokes passionate debate within the basketball world.
Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson are easily classified as legendary figures, but there is some contentiousness with how their other star is viewed within the context of NBA lore.
Draymond Green is an interesting case study in what one values and prioritizes in terms of metrics and multifaceted impact.
There seems to be a rift between those who see him as an elite player and those who think he’s a product of his environment and would be irrelevant to the landscape of the league on an inferior team.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN wrote a really compelling piece that argued that Green is on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer.
This piece is in concurrence with how Steve Kerr described Green after the Warriors wrapped up their series with the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this postseason.
Considering the phenomenal players Kerr played alongside with on the 1990s Chicago Bulls and early 2000s San Antonio Spurs, a comment like that has immense credibility.
Pelton’s article focuses on the uphill battle Green has to fight in order to be enshrined in a museum that has historically been biased against more defensive-oriented players who don’t have gaudy offensive statistics.
Pelton mentions that only two players are Hall of Famers who averaged fewer points per game in their career-high scoring season than Green: K.C. Jones and Dennis Rodman.
Green averaged 14 points per game in 2015-16, but he could easily have a season by the time he retires where he tops that total.
Pelton acknowledges that Jones and Rodman were both premier defenders who won multiple championships, as is Green.
The example he uses to illustrate the necessity of multiple championships to enshrine a premier defender is Ben Wallace.
Despite winning a single championship and securing 4 Defensive Player of the Year Awards during his career, Wallace has yet to get the induction call.
He has not been eligible for very long, though, so Wallace might ultimately prove this rule wrong. After all, he is tied with Dikembe Mutombo for the most DPOY wins, and Mutombo is a Hall of Famer without any championships.
Pelton also points out the Green has already made more All-Star teams than Rodman did and is tied with him for All-NBA Team appearances, with many more years to add to those totals.
Hall of Fame induction is all about precedent. To successfully argue that a player is worthy of inclusion, all that has to be done is successfully argue that the player is just as if not more qualified than somebody already in the club.
I agree with Pelton in his final assessment that while it’s too early to call Green a lock, he’s well on his way if he continues performing the way he has these last few seasons, and it is disrespectful to discount his credentials for inclusion as quickly as some do.
Based on his Win Share totals from his first 5 seasons in the league thus far, the players who played at his position that had similar Win Share totals through their first 5 years that Green has had include guys like Lou Hudson, Chris Webber, Glen Rice, Kiki Vandeweghe, LaMarcus Aldridge, Peja Stojakovic, and Harry Gallatin.
Of all those players, only Gallatin is a Hall of Famer. However, Webber might be enshrined in the coming years. Aldridge could also possibly be a Hall of Famer once he retires.
NBA Reference does a really cool calculation of a player’s Hall of Fame probability based on factors like stats, player awards, and peak dominance.
For perspective, Gallatin registers an 80.9% Hall of Fame probability in that model. 26 players register 100%. Green has a current total of 14.3%, which is slightly lower than Webber’s total. It is also larger than current Hall of Famers like Earl Monroe, Bernard King, Pete Maravich, Spencer Haywood, Guy Rodgers, Gus Johnson, Connie Hawkins, and Bill Walton.
Pelton is right when he says that Green is on his way and is worthy of a meaningful discussion. Rodman is key in this debate.
If you don’t think that Rodman was worthy of induction then you probably won’t think Green will be worthy of induction either.
They were both elite defenders on numerous championship teams. Rodman was the superior rebounder, but Green was a much more adept offensive player in terms of his scoring ability and orchestration skills.
It seems weird to support one’s inclusion but not the other’s inclusion. Assuming Green continues at his current pace, he’d deserve to be alongside Rodman in the Hall of Fame.