OAKLAND -- As concern grows around the Warriors that David Lee could miss the remainder of the regular season and possibly some or all of the playoffs, one person remains staunchly unworried.
That would be the man currently packing most of Lee's minutes, second-year forward Draymond Green. Since Lee went down March 22 with a hamstring strain, Green has averaged 33 minutes, and as coach Mark Jackson termed it, "He's been spectacular."
Green hasn't replaced Lee's 18.5 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, but he has been an all-around force at both ends of the floor even if the basic numbers (9.0 points, 7.2 rebounds) don't necessarily reflect his impact.
Arguably, with the Warriors going 4-2 in the six games Green's carried a significantly heavier load, the club has been more well-rounded on offense and even more stout and tenacious on defense. That's not to diminish Lee's importance -- 18-and-9 players don't grow on trees in the NBA -- but to point up how Green has stepped into a huge void and used his own skill set to change the Golden State dynamic positively.
The first step, according to Green, was trying not to replicate what Lee brought to the team when he was healthy.
"I'm not going out on the court and trying to be David," he said Tuesday. "I'm going out and trying to bring more of what Draymond Green brings. I'm not talking in third person, by the way. I hate when guys talk in third person. But I am trying to bring more of what I do at a higher rate and for a longer period of time."
To be sure, Green's game is selfless, so it's understandable that he caught himself with a bit of embarrassment speaking his own name. But how is he getting the job done without matching Lee's statistical output? He's not short on theories.
"I bring a different skill set than David brings, whether it's trying to get up and down the court a little bit faster, initiating a break, or working to get Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) open," he said. "And I think you're seeing more of us depending on each other. When you have three guys in the lineup who can get their own, sometimes you're going to go more iso (isolation) because that's their strengths.
"Now I think you're seeing a lot more ball movement because you have to adjust to your situation," he added. "And I think we've adjusted pretty well."
Green's own adjustments in the offense have been mainly as a facilitator. When the ball comes to him, it doesn't stay in his hands long.
"In different situations, you have to do different things," he said. "What I'm thinking now is `catch the ball, move it,' " he said. "It's hard for a defense to defend side to side. Eventually, it breaks down. Usually I'm the swing guy, so I try to take advantage of who's on the court with me. Steph and Klay can make me look a lot better. If I can catch and swing it to one of those guys, or set a pick and possibly get one of them open, it draws so much attention, it may get me or someone else open. So I just try to catch it and make quick decisions."
Jackson maintains he hasn't had to make that many offensive adjustments with Lee out as one would think.
"Truthfully, if it was a year ago, I think it would be more of an adjustment, when David's post-ups were more of a highlight of our offense," the coach said. "This year, we've run a lot more pick-and-rolls or spread the floor more, so I don't think it's been as big an adjustment as it would have been in the past."
Moreover, pairing Green with Andre Iguodala, it gives the Warriors two superior defenders at the wing spots, and now that Andrew Bogut has returned from injury to play center, the potential for Golden State's front line defensively -- particularly in the playoffs -- could be even more formidable.
Green, 24, hasn't played all that much with Bogut because when he's been in the game as a reserve, Bogut has generally gone to the bench with the starting unit. At the end of games, he's actually replaced Bogut, and then, of course, Bogut has also missed significant time the past two seasons with injuries.
But Green is excited about the potential of the revamped front line if Lee is unable to make it back, just because he finally gets to play alongside the defensive-minded big man.
"One thing about Bogut and myself, we have really good passing ability so we can find each other," he said. "Both of us are pretty high IQ kind of guys and we take to the defensive end very well. We're also two guys who aren't afraid to hear their own voice on the defensive end. So it's definitely going to continue to grow, the chemistry is going to get better. We haven't played a ton together, but I love being out there on the court with him."
As for the prospects of an evolving Iguodala-Lee-Green front line, Green said, "You're not going to get much past the three of us."
Denver (33-44) at Warriors (48-29), 7:30 p.m. CSNBAPLUS, TNT