The Golden State Warriors are headed to the NBA play-in tournament. They will finish the regular season with the eighth- or ninth-best record in the NBA. They will do that with the probable league scoring champion, and if you ask Draymond Green, the Defensive Player of the Year.
Now, if you were to tell me a team would have a scoring champ and the most important defender in the NBA, I would assume they would be very good. Not three games over .500 in the last week of the season. I also would think a team with the best defensive player wouldn't be surrendering the 19th-most points per game in the entire league.
That's probably because no team with a DPOY has had worse than the 11th-best defense in the league over the last decade. Or been an 8-seed or lower. So much like Curry on the offensive end of the court, Green is looking to make history.
Giannis Antetokounmpo won DPOY last season and the Bucks had the eighth-best defense. The Bucks had the best record in basketball.
Rudy Gobert had won the previous two awards as the Jazz had top five defenses both times.
Back in 2011, the award was won by Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic had the fourth-best scoring defense in the NBA and were a 4-seed.
Tyson Chandler won the award in 2012 when the Knicks were a 7-seed. They had the 11th-best defense in the NBA. They also lost in the first round.
Memphis had the best defense in the NBA in 2013 and finished fifth in the West when Marc Gasol won.
Joakim Noah won in '14 when the Bulls had the best defense and were third in the East.
In '15 and '16 Kawhi Leonard won while the Spurs had the number three (6-seed) and number one (2-seed) defenses.
In '17, Draymond Green won DPOY. The Warriors had the best record in the West, the 11th-best defense and won the title. It was the first time the Defensive Player of the Year won the title since Kevin Garnett did it with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Ben Wallace won the award four times in five years in the early 2000s with the Detroit Pistons winning the NBA title the one year he didn't. Hakeem Olajuwon and Dennis Rodman both one DPOY during one of their championship seasons. Michael Cooper also pulled off the double trophy in '86-'87.
So what does all this mean? Nothing, really. The Defensive Player of the Year comes from all sorts of teams who have very different resumes. It is just that the idea of the DPOY and scoring leaders being on the same team and fighting for the 8-seed is pretty funny.
If anything, it says a whole lot about Klay Thompson. Klay hasn't played since 2019. The Warriors had been to five consecutive NBA Finals when he was injured. Last year they went 15-50 without Thompson (and mostly without Curry). This year they are three games over .500 and a half-game up on the Memphis Grizzlies with Curry and Green. You throw a healthy Klay Thompson in the mix and suddenly they're hosting a first-round playoff series.
Surely, '15-'16 Coach of the Year Steve Kerr could actually get something out of the roster then.