Sport Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green ready for heavy workload

17:25  02 october  2019
17:25  02 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Warriors forward Draymond Green trained extensively to assume a significant workload during the NBA regular season for a changing Golden State team. Usually, Green waits for the actual playoffs to showcase the best version of himself with his positional versatility as a defender and playmaker.

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors had already practiced for 2½ hours. That was much longer than Draymond Green usually endured in the past five years through five consecutive NBA Finals runs.

Yet even after the Warriors’ first training-camp session ended Tuesday, Green darted from the court to a nearby elliptical machine. About 20 minutes later, Green sat on a chair and enjoyed a smoothie filled with bananas, whey protein and tart cherry juice.

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“I’m back on my playoff diet,” Green said with a grin during an interview with USA TODAY Sports.

Usually, Green waits for the actual playoffs to showcase the best version of himself with his positional versatility as a defender and playmaker. This season, the Warriors’ star cannot wait that long.

The Warriors lost the free-agency sweepstakes on Kevin Durant, whom Green called “one of the best players in the league.” The Warriors sent Andre Iguodala to Memphis to trim salary, while Shaun Livingston retired, two players that Green said “were so vital to this organization in what we were able to accomplish” with three NBA titles in the past five years. The Warriors ruled out All-Star guard Klay Thompson through the NBA All-Star break (left knee) and starting center Willie Cauley-Stein through training camp (left foot).

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Nonetheless, Green believes the Warriors will make the NBA Finals for a sixth consecutive season. The Warriors still have their accomplished front office, coaching staff and Stephen Curry. They acquired All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell both to offset Thompson’s absence and complement his presence when he returns. Lastly, the Warriors still have Green, whose outlook seems as healthy as his diet.

“You can look at it as the roster has been turned over and you have to figure it out. Or you look at it from the standpoint that it’s been five years with the same band. Sometimes the band has been on tour for so long and then it gets harder,” Green said. “You can look at it from that standpoint of there’s lots of new energy and new hunger. That is needed, so that’s the way I see it.”

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Draymond Green was his talkative self at Golden State Warriors practice on Monday, but the All- Star forward's mood was understandably heavier than normal. Just hours before, when the Oklahoma City Thunder won Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in a

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Green spent this offseason mixing vacation time with his fiancée and intense training sessions that centered equally on core strength, lower body mobility and on-court work. A day before training camp started, Green began a season-long pledge to abstain entirely from liquor and junk food. Unlike the 2018 offseason, Green said he no longer feels fatigued from the Warriors’ NBA Finals runs.

“I’m using it to get all the way into game shape, to hone everything in and get my feel back,” Green said. “It will allow me to attack the preseason the way I have in the past, as opposed to last year where it was kind of a disaster.”

Why was last year a disaster? Well, Green spent most of the 2018 offseason clearing his mind while healing various shoulder, knee and hip injuries that sidelined him for a combined 12 games in 2017-18. Then, Green opened training camp missing three exhibitions because of a sore left knee. A month into the 2018-19 season, Green then sat a combined 14 games because of pain in his right foot that coincided with a one-game suspension for his infamous argument with Durant.

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While the Warriors relied on their other All-Star talent, Green eventually improved his health, conditioning and consistency. Just before the playoffs started, Green lost a reported 20-plus pounds after improving his diet and making frequent trips to Soul Cycle. In related news, Green logged a league-leading six triple-doubles during the NBA postseason.

Four months later, Green vowed he will “get back to doing that year-round.” If so, perhaps Green makes his fourth NBA All-Star appearance after missing the cut last season. Perhaps Green reclaims the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award he won in 2017 after spending the past two years on the league’s all-defensive second team. Green stressed he remains more concerned about keeping the Warriors a contender.

“There’s no doubt I will have a great year,” Green said. “But my focus every day coming into the season can’t be on Defensive Player of the Year. It can’t be this or that. It has to be bringing this team together and making this work. Then if I bring this team together and make this work, all of those things will take care of themselves.”

The Warriors have always valued Green for fulfilling this job description since selecting him at No. 35 in 2012. That's why they signed Green to a four-year, $100 million max extension on Aug. 3 that keeps him under contract through the 2023-24 season. Green could have been eligible for a five-year, $201 million max deal or $235 million if he was named this season’s Defensive Player of the Year. Instead, Green found it more enticing to ensure long-term security. In a negotiation he said lasted only one day, Green expressed appreciation the Warriors granted him a player option for his final year. And unlike what Durant experienced last year, Green enters this season free of any speculation about his free-agency future.

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“I didn't want to come into this season dealing with all of that stuff. It kind of becomes a headache,” Green said at the Warriors' Media Day on Monday. “It definitely played a little part in it, and just understanding what was best for myself and my family and for this organization. I've said it a million times now – I want to be here for my entire career. What makes that possible? What makes that more realistic? I think this did.”

How will the Warriors maximize their long-term investment?

Unlike what has happened in the past year, the Warriors will not keep Curry and Green under a load management program. As Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “Steph and Draymond will play a huge role early on in camp as we're trying to establish kind of a sense of who we are.”

“They are telling me to be mindful and not run myself into the ground. But at the same time, they tell me to do whatever I feel my body needs,” Green said. “You know what your body can handle.”

Will Green pull off this balancing act with the same ease he shows with defending all five positions, stuffing the box score and offering intangibles that statistics do not capture? Or will he hit a roadblock as he did when he invited Warriors center Omari Spellman and rookie Eric Paschall to a recent Janet Jackson concert?

As Green shared in amusement, “that just kind of shows me I’m getting old; none of them wanted to go with me.”

“It was nothing against Draymond,” Spellman said. “It was just like, that’s not really my era.”

That little setback does not seem to deter Green. The Michigan State alum has sparked laughs for teasing Warriors rookie guard Jordan Poole and Glenn Robinson III for playing for his alma mater’s in-state rival (University of Michigan). Green also spent part of Tuesday giving the Warriors’ eight newcomers various tips on the team’s defensive schemes.

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“He’ll definitely stop practice and give directives and help guys out,” Spellman said. “I’ve gone to him and asked him a few questions myself trying to pick his brain. He’s definitely willing. I’m going to use that resource to try to get better. I know other guys will, too.”

Those on the Warriors, including Green, remain mindful that process will take time. Therefore, Green has entered training camp preparing as if he will soon compete in a playoff game. It might determine if the Warriors actually make a deep postseason run.

“I love this game,” Green said. “I’m competing at the highest level.”

Follow Mark Medina on Twitter @MarkG_Medina

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green ready for heavy workload

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