Draymond Green Has a Four-Point Triple Double
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“That’s as dominant of a performance as I’ve ever seen from somebody who scored four points.” – Steve Kerr
One of the most unique players to ever play the game of basketball, Draymond Green is often referred to as the heart and soul of the Warriors. Known for his excellent defense and playmaking abilities, if there was ever a game that encapsulated the brilliance of Green, it was February 10, 2017.
That day, the Warriors were in Memphis on the first game of a three-game road trip, with a 44-8 record in Kevin Durant’s first season on the Warriors. Having already lost twice to the Grizzlies earlier that season, the Warriors seemingly had some extra motivation to come out and avoid a third loss on the season to Memphis.
At the time, however, people were curious if the Warriors were going to be able to muster up enough energy and focus to defeat the notoriously difficult-to-play Grizzlies. Why? Because the following night, the Warriors were headed to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder in Durant’s return to Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In a game that could have easily slipped away from the Warriors, it was Green’s energy and defensive excellence that got them over the hump and resulted in a 122-107 victory for the Warriors, and a one-of-a-kind performance in NBA history for Green.
Everything that made the Warriors an all-time great team was on display throughout this game. Klay Thompson led all scorers in the game with 38 points and eight three-pointers. Durant finished with 24 points, Stephen Curry had 18 points, and former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala came off the bench to lead all bench players with 22 points.
As a team, the Warriors moved the ball nicely, finishing with 31 assists. They shot better than 50% from the field and 45% from three. Led by Green, the Warriors forced the Grizzlies into 18 turnovers, while also holding Memphis to under 40% shooting from the field. Marc Gasol was nine days away from being teammates with the four Warriors stars (Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Green) as an All-Star in New Orleans, but he was limited all game as he finished an inefficient four of 14 from the field, while also committing a team-high four turnovers.
The Warriors eventually eased to their 45th win of the season in a dominant road showing against a Grizzlies team that at the time was 10 games over .500 and ultimately reached the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
In the midst of everything good for the Warriors was a man who only scored four points. A man who was tasked with guarding the twin behemoths from Memphis: Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Green recorded his first steal and assist within the opening two minutes of the game and he was off and running.
By halftime, Green had recorded seven steals. Green would go on to record three rebounds, three assists, and a steal in the third quarter. Entering the fourth quarter, the Warriors were up by 21 points, and the only remaining mystery was if he would reach double digits in steals and notch the most unique of triple-doubles.
With just under five minutes remaining, he notched his ninth steal, taking the ball away from Gasol. Then, with 2:55 remaining in the contest, Green swiped the ball away from Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green and put the finishing touches on his historic performance.
This was the first game in NBA history in which a player recorded a triple-double without points being included as one of the three categories. It is emblematic of Green’s career, with a career scoring average of less than nine points per game, that he would be the player capable of pulling off this feat.
There have been more than 400 different players throughout NBA history that have recorded a triple-double and well over 2000 such performances in total. As the triple-double continues to become a more common achievement, led by the new triple-double king Russell Westbrook, Green’s stat line will continue to be one of the most unique triple-doubles ever.
Green recorded his first triple-double two seasons before this in what was ultimately the Warriors first championship season. In that game, against the Toronto Raptors on January 2, 2015, he collected 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists and the Warriors won by a final score of 126-105. A Green triple-double would become a good barometer of the Warriors winning ways.
His triple-double against the Grizzlies was the 18th of his regular season career and with the win, the Warriors moved to 18-0 in those games. Upon the conclusion of the 2020-2021 regular season, Green collecting triple-doubles has continued to be a good indicator of Warriors wins, as they are now 29-1 in regular season games when Green records a triple-double.
Additionally, Green became the first player in NBA history to record 10 steals and five blocks in the same game. The 10 steals were a Warriors franchise record and one off the NBA record.
His five blocks tied a career high at the time, which he surpassed a little over a month later, recording six in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers
This was Green’s banner game that season, as he would eventually be the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, the first and only time of his career that he has won the award. Green had finished as the runner up to Kawhi Leonard each of the past two seasons. He also was rewarded with his third straight appearance on the NBA’s all-defense first team. The Warriors finished the 2016-17 with their second championship in three years.
In the bigger picture, this masterpiece has contributed to the most interesting of Hall of Fame cases for Green, who won’t have the stats of a typical Hall of Famer, but will have the necessary accolades as a hugely important member on a dynastic team. For those who will defend Green and say he is must-add to the Hall of Fame when his career ends, his sensational triple-double without points vs Memphis in 2017 will become an emphatic reminder of his brilliance and impact on the game of basketball without needing to score.