Gold Draymond State Warriors forward Green and second-best design pick James Wiseman participated in their first practice of the season on Monday after spending the first week of training camp after league protocols.
The Warriors never officially announced the reason for Green and Wiseman’s absence because of championship rules, but Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said last week that both players tested positive at COVID-19 before training started. Green and Sage were the only two players who hadn’t trained until then, but their arrival on Monday brought a new wave of enthusiasm into the organization.
It was great to have these guys back on the field, said Coach Steve Kerr in a video conference with reporters after practice. Draymond is our leader and it was difficult to get through the first week of camp without our leader. His presence was immediately perceptible, with advice at film screenings and advice on the spot, and a lot of discussion about waste. So the energy level just went through the roof. It was great to have Draymond back.
Kerr said last week that it was highly unlikely that any of the players would play in the Warriors’ pre-season games. He noted that neither player participated in Monday’s scrimmage, but that both players hoped to participate in the regular season opener of the Warriors on the 22nd. December to play against former Warriors star Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
For Green, who said he felt good but needed to regain his strength after taking more than a week off, the chance to work with Wiseman was something that appealed most to him on his first day back at work.
I thought James was everywhere today, and it was great, Green said. His energy has reached new heights, which has sometimes taken him away from his positions, which I like to see because you can learn positioning, but not high energy. He had a lot of energy today…. They ask tons of questions, which I always love. I have a feeling he’s going to be a sponge – he asks a lot of questions.
The 19-year-old center in Memphis has admitted that his energy level is off the chart after he learned a few days ago that he can participate in his first training session.
I had so much energy, Wiseman says. Because I couldn’t wait to play. All I did was talk, give all my energy to my team…. It was crazy… The first training was really great, but I learned a lot from the vets.
Kerr noted that Green and Wiseman, who will be trusted to play defense for the Warriors this season, are rapidly developing a chemistry on the court as evidenced by Monday’s defensive and offensive practices that ended with an alley-hoping through Green and Wiseman.
It was great, Mr. Kerr said. Draymond will be a great help to him. Especially defensive, only with positioning and tricks…. It was a perfect snapshot of what we hope to see – what Warriors fans hope to see, and what could happen. The defensive synergy between these two parties and the offensive link with this lobby is so fascinating to see.
Green looks forward to working alongside his old teammate, Stephen Curry, and helping the Warriors get back on track after last season’s 15-50 league record. Green’s expectations for this season are unchanged with the new team and the loss of Klay Thompson due to another injury that ended the season for the All-Star team.
If I don’t win a title, that’s too bad, Mr. Green. There are no moral victories. No, oh, it’s our first year together, or we don’t have many stars, or Clay’s out. I don’t really drive like this. They walk on the ground, have the same 94 feet, two baskets and a basketball as everyone else. We’re all NBA players. So go ahead, participate, try to win, try to participate at the highest level, the highest level at which you can personally participate to help this team win. That’s what I am.
For the first time since Thompson’s Achilles tendon injury, Green speaks of a similar feeling throughout the Warriors’ organization – a sense of sadness for Thompson and the belief that he can return to the kind of player he’s always been next season.
Personally, [Thompson’s Achilles tendon injury] hurts me because I know how much he loves and depends on basketball, Mr. Green said. If you’re talking about someone who lives to play basketball, it’s Clay. Clay’s a guy you happen to see, it’s like he’s sitting there working on his shot. There is no ball court or basketball court. He sits there and does it, so it sucks to be kidnapped again.
But I think if anyone can come back from two catastrophic injuries and come back strong at the same level or better, it’s him. Glue embodies everything it means to be a warrior. We all know how hard Clay is… He’s as hard as a nail. If anyone can do it, he can.