Now that the Warriors’ season is over, the organization is being forthright about the impact of Draymond Green’s punch on Jordan Poole in the preseason.
It altered the “joy” of the team, according to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, while Draymond also admitted that it changed his behavior within the locker room.
Draymond appeared on an ESPN simulcast of the Western Conference Finals Game 1 with Stephen A. Smith on Tuesday night and said he toned down his role as an emotional leader, which hurt Golden State in the long run.
“We’re not playing right now – because when you speak about the fouling, when you speak about all of the slippage that we had as a team and not being able to come together – none of those things happen if that (punch) doesn’t happen,” Green said. “Because the voice that I am and the departments that I lead this team in, there was a ton of slippage due to me sitting back. Me not saying anything, me trying to allow that situation to play itself and giving it time to heal. But while you’re giving it all that time to heal, guess what?”
I still don’t get the feeling that he thinks the punch was unwarranted, despite its obvious ramifications. I think it’s worth noting that Draymond isn’t taking accountability for the punch itself, but the fallout of his behavior afterwards.
According to a report by The Athletic, Draymond had a fiery locker room reaction on Jan. 27 when he “verbally chewed out Poole.” Around that time, Green said he felt like himself again, but the Warriors were 25-24 and 6-18 on the road.
“I would say probably by February I started to feel like myself and speak more,” Green said. “But guess what? That was just five months of the season when slippage had been occurring. By February, if that slippage has been going on, you are who you are at that point. You’ve built those habits, you’ve built bad habits. That is who you are now. To try and correct them then, it’s like OK, you may get a little bit better – we did end up in the second round of the playoffs – but not at a championship level.”
The Warriors floated around .500 most of the season and had terrible success on the road until finally ending on an 8-2 run in the regular season to earn the No. 6 seed. Last week, the defending champs were bounced by the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs.