The Golden State Warriors are rolling to start the 2015-16 season. The defending champions have only lost just twice in their first 34 games and are on pace for the best regular season in NBA history, surpassing the legendary 72-10 record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. They boast the league's best offensive rating (111.9), third best defensive rating (98.5), and second best net rating (+13.4).
A major reason for the Warriors hot start has been the play of starting power forward Draymond Green. Green is averaging 15 points, 7.5 assists, 9.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 46.4% from the field and 41.5% on three pointers. Green has also posted triple-doubles in the Warriors last three games, and his play has earned him plenty of observers around the league. Young Lakers power forward Julius Randle is among them.
"Draymond is playing great," Randle said at the Lakers Monday practice as the team prepared to host the Warriors on Tuesday night. "[Matching up against him] is a great challenge. A great guy to look at as far as what he does and how important he is to their team. A great role model for me."
As far as players for Randle to attempt to pattern himself after, Draymond is not a bad target by any means. Both are somewhat undersized power forwards. although Randle is a bit bigger with a listed two inches and 20 pounds on Green. Both players also fit under the descriptor of "playmaking fours," or power forwards who like to handle the ball and lead the break. However, while Randle most often puts his head down while attempting to get to the rim and create his own shot, Green is a vastly superior playmaker and shooter at this point in their careers.
Randle has attempted to expand his range in recent games though, averaging one three-point attempt per game over his last 10 games and making 55.6% of them. It's a small sample size to be sure, but given that Randle had shot just six three pointers prior to that stretch and made none of them, it is notable that he has been more active and effective behind the arc.
Arguably the biggest part of what makes Green so dangerous, however, is the area where Randle still has the most room to improve: the defensive end of the floor. Lakers head coach Byron Scott recently called out Randle's defense in front of the team and the media after his ball-watching led to 9 points from Mirza Teletovic late in the Lakers' win over the Phoenix Suns. Green, meanwhile, can guard all five positions on the court, holds his man to just 39% shooting, and opposing team's score just 95 points per 100 possessions while he is on the floor (second best rate on the Warriors). If Randle wants to learn something from Green, that is the place to start. At just 20-years old, he has plenty of time to learn.