He's loved and he's hated, sometimes even among those who root for him. He feels like the spiritual successor to Charles Barkley yet is entirely original. His greatness is subtle and prone to disappear a bit. There are tremendous highs and tremendous lows. Just when you think you figure out what makes him tick, who he is in the larger basketball conversation, who he is as a force of personality, the script changes. He's ever-evolving, awkwardly at times. And he just reached his final form.
The 2022 NBA Finals brought us the entire Draymond Green experience. He scored eight points and fouled out in Game 2, which the Warriors essentially won without him, relying Andrew Wiggins to be the second-best player behind Stephen Curry. A 1-for-7 stinker to the soundtrack of eff-you chants gave way to the moment the series changed — a stunning yet entirely sound decision by Steve Kerr to bench Green in Game 4. Returning from that sting, all the man who just makes winning plays did was make winning plays. His defense remained elite. He passed with his usual crispness, firing the ball around with confidence and production.
And in Game 6, he donned the suit of a killer so mentally strong in his own way that you dare not look him in the eye. A 12-point, 12-rebound, 8-assist capstone on a weird journey. Goaded to shoot, he shot. After missing the first 11 triple tries of the series, he knocked down two momentum-shifters from beyond the arc. That swagger returned. In a league where so many guys do, in fact, have that dog in them, perhaps Green's is largest. Or has the sharpest teeth. Or backs the bark up with gnashing bites.
Of course he gets under skin. Because he's trying to get under skin. He's perfected that specific game and nowhere was it more noticeable than when Grant Williams tried to turn the tables and out-Draymond Draymond. Not only did it fail miserably, it proved a larger point about the series.
There is no question these Boston Celtics could have beaten the Warriors on the court. But it would have required beating them between the ears and between beating hearts. As the ultimate result came into focus, so too did the realization that this dynastic unit is so because there is an iron cage of twisted steel underneath the fancy paint job and sleek design of Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole running around sinking three-pointers.
That infrastructure is Green's purview and he oversees it magnificently. You cannot out-Draymond Draymond. There is only one. And what we got these Finals was the full buffet. Tough to watch at times. Exasperating. Dully impressive at first and sharply so when you realize what he's trying to do. And in the end, a meandering journey that once again ended up in the winners' circle.