If you were to formulate a list that consists of the most important players in the NBA you would probably come up with these eight names. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook.
All of these players are considered top ten players in the league. The order may be different depending on who you talk to, but make no mistake about it they are the top players in the league.
The million dollar question is: Is your best player also the most important player on your team? In most cases, the answer is yes. In some other cases, the answer could be no. There are two players that fit this criterion perfectly. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
Draymond Green is the main cog in the engine that makes the Golden State Warriors go. His drive and competitive spirit are one of the key components of the warrior's success.
Green was the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft in the second round by the warriors. Coming out of Michigan State NBA scouts and NBA GM’s was not sure how Draymond would fit in the league. He was considered an unsized power forward that did a lot of things well, but nothing elite. There was also a feeling he wasn’t in the best shape and needed to work on his body.
Green’s greatest attribute is that he is a winner. All he does is win and he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Green did work on his body and got himself into phenomenal shape. He was in and out the rotation early in his career. In the 2014-2015 David Lee suffered an injury and Draymond was inserted into the starting lineup.
Once in the lineup, the warriors took off and never looked back and they would go on to win the championship that year.
Draymond’s versatility and skill set allowed the warriors to play smaller quicker more athletic lineups. This benefits them on both offense and defense. He pioneered the point power forward position allowing Steph Curry to play off the ball.
The combination of Curry and Thompson coming off down screens makes the warriors one of the best offenses the league has ever seen. Possessing a high basketball I.Q. he is able to read defenses and process information at an elite level. He is the backbone of one of the most dominant lineups in history. A lineup simply is known as the “death lineup”.
Green’s value was shown during the 2016 NBA finals. Golden State had a commanding lead late in game four and was about to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. He gets into an altercation with LeBron James that earns him a technical foul.
Draymond is suspended for game 5 and the warriors go on to lose the series in 7 games. There is no doubt in mind if he would have played in game 5 the warriors would have won the championship. This also paved the way for Kevin Durant to come to the warriors. If Golden State wins the title there’s no way KD joins the warriors.
Draymond may not be the best player on the team playing alongside KD and Steph, but he is the most important player on the warriors. He has been the key to the warrior's championship teams and the anchor of one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.
Rudy Robert was drafted 27th overall by the Denver Nuggets back in 2013. The Jazz traded for him on draft night. Rudy Gobert is the anchor, the backbone and the most important player on the Utah Jazz. Last season when he missed time because of injury the Jazz were 11-16 and 31-17 when he was in the lineup.
According to an article written by ESPN Tim MacMahon back in March when Gobert was off the floor, the Jazz was giving up 105 points per 100 possessions, which would be 12th in the league. When he is healthy and on the court ,they give up 97.7 points per 100 possessions, which is 1st in the league.
Offensively his skills are limited. He is not a guy you are going to dump the ball inside to and expect to score. In the era of pick n roll basketball, he is an extremely valuable roller. According to basketball reference, Gobert shot 62% percent from the field. What often gets overlooked is how important a role man is that can catch and finish. His ability to role hard spreads the floor for the Jazz offense. He gives Donavan Mitchell the space he needs to operate and create for his teammates.
Gobert dominance on defense last season earned him his first defensive player of the year award, after only playing 50+ games. The head-scratching thing is in this year's GM survey he received no votes as the best center in the league.
How the GM’s came to this insane conclusion we will never know. Some of the guys listed over him are more talented than him on offense, but that should not negate him over value to his team. He is not the best player on his team, but he is one of the most important players in the league.
Basketball purists should stand up an applaud Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert. These two players have shown that being a complete player or extremely elite in a skill can bring immeasurable value to a franchise. In today's society flash seems to be rewarded more than substance.
These two players stand above all the rest showing how valuable substance is to an NBA team. They may not be the best players on their respective teams, but these two hands down are the most important.