Draymond Green is one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA.
The detractors say that Green often crosses the line with his play and interviews off-the-court. Just in this year’s Game 3 of this year’s NBA Finals, Green picked up his 17th technical foul of the season after a disagreed foul call. Green also was suspended for Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors up 3-1. Cleveland would rally and defeat the Warriors in seven games.
Despite some of the on-the-court and off-the-court antics, Green represents a sea change in today’s NBA play. His ability to play multiple positions, handle the ball, pass, rebound and defend makes him one of the most versatile and important players in the modern style of open, transitional basketball. That style and success in the NBA has resonated with the past and current recruits of Michigan State.
Green graduated from Michigan State in 2012 and jumped on the scene in the NBA in his third season (2014-15) when he averaged 11.7 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game on 34% shooting from three. He’s an NBA champion (on his way to a second title), two-time All-Star and one of the NBA’s best defensive players.
That success has translated into recruiting and financial wins for Michigan State over the past two seasons. A 2016 SBNation article on Green pointed out a large donation from the current Golden State big man.
The 2016 class of Miles Bridges, Josh Langford, Cassius Winston and Nick Ward was one of Michigan State’s highest-rated recruiting classes in school history (#3 according to 247Sports). All share a relationship with Green, especially Miles Bridges.
Green and Bridges trade barbs on Twitter, frequently text back-and-forth and Green visited the locker room and attended Michigan State’s second round game against Kansas in this past year’s NCAA Tournament. Check out Bridges talking about the impact of Green to him and the NBA process from this video interview courtesy of Sheila Mikailli.
Green has worked to establish relationships with top players Michigan State’s 2017 and 2018 classes as well. Here he is with top 2017 player, Jaren Jackson at this past season’s NBA All-Star Game. Top 2018 commit, power forward Thomas Kithier, cites Green as his “favorite player”.
Even more importantly than text messages and Instagram posts, Green’s style of play might resonant the most with young players. He plays on the best team in the league, in an offense that is fast and fun to watch, he rebounds, shoots three’s, has swagger and can defend pretty much anyone in the league. To have Michigan State’s brand attached to that style of play is a great advantage as the college game slowly morphs into much of what the NBA resembles.
Furthermore, the incredible improvement Green has shown not only in the NBA, but at Michigan State, gives coach Tom Izzo as compelling a pitch to any top player in the country. Green shot 12% (!) from three-point range his sophomore season, but by his senior season was the Big Ten Player of the Year. The one-and-done types like the message because Green made it to the NBA and has thrived. The less heralded recruits like the message because through hard work and the coaching of Izzo, they, like Green, can get to an impactful spot in the NBA eventually.
There is still much to be done on the court from Draymond Green. His commitment to helping Michigan State is already well established. Expect this impact on the program to only grow in the near future.