JaMychal Green’s impressive return shows why Warriors coveted him

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JMG reveals why Warriors coveted him in impressive return that originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

During the off-season, the Warriors lost a combination of seasoned experience and toughness with players having to fight and claw to make a name for themselves in the NBA. Those components are vital to a championship team and have played a part in the Warriors’ slow start this season.

That’s where JaMychal Green had to fit in.

Green is 32 years old, on his fifth franchise and in his ninth NBA season after leaving Alabama. The Warriors have played him for a long time and jumped at the chance to give Green a one-year, $2.6 million contract when he became a free agent over the summer. Golden State’s 120-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse without six players and four starters showed why.

“For him to come back after a month and bring that kind of power, knock down three threes,” Steve Kerr told reporters in Cleveland after the win, “…JaMychal played a big part in [the win].”

At 7:49 of the first quarter, Green checked in for his first game since December 18, 2022. Two minutes later, Green grabbed a defensive rebound, ran downfield and spiked a 3-pointer at the top of the arc. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all in street clothes after Thursday night’s overtime loss to the Boston Celtics, rose from their seats and held up three fingers in celebration.

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All three have played in the NBA for over a decade and have the utmost respect for Green. They respect his hustle and wanted him in San Francisco. They also know how much he has been missed in the past month, both because of his mentality and his skills.

It didn’t take long for Green to show his worth in a variety of ways. Green scored eight points in the first quarter alone, along with four rebounds and two three-pointers. By halftime, Green had tied his season-high of three three-pointers. He also made three errors in the first half, the third of which was on a screen where Lamar Stevens grabbed his ribs and had to walk gingerly to the sideline.

“Shout out to JaMychal,” Jordan Poole said. “He’s given us some huge boards and he’s just another force out there.”

The Warriors Dynasty will forever be remembered for star power and game changing from behind the 3 point line. On the way, enforcers found their scroll and drove it to a ring. They needed the Warriors and the Warriors needed them.

Green can be this season. He lost to Golden State three times in the playoffs with three different teams. At 32, Green grunts as he laughs and enjoys intimidation, willing to do whatever it takes to win a title.

After missing 14 games in a row, first due to being placed in league health and safety protocols and then due to a right leg infection, Green played 16 minutes off the bench in the Warriors’ six-point victory. He scored 13 points, his second highest this season. His eight rebounds were also his second highest this season.

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“It feels great, feels great,” said Green when asked about his performance. “I didn’t know. I was worried about the rhythm and my toughness and everything beyond that. It feels great to finally be there, play well and get the win.”

This was a long time coming after a frustrating last month for Green. He was stricken with COVID during the Warriors’ six-game road trip towards the end of the year and had to stay in New York for about a week. Standing six feet tall and bored in a small room, Green wanted to buy a ticket home and put an end to an unfortunate situation.

As he watched movies and binge shows, teammates and coaches checked in on Green all the time. New to the Warriors, that went a long way. Then came his leg infection, another bump in a tough season for the veteran.

“Don’t pop a bump, don’t pop a pimple,” said Green. “It was crazy, it was unexpected. I thought it was something that could go away soon, but it just flared up and got worse. I was just glad we stayed on top of it before it got worse.”

Not long ago, Green had trouble walking and had to be hospitalized for a month. The season did not go as planned. On Friday night, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting only 26.5 percent on 3-pointers. Green’s 112 defensive rating coming into play was the worst of his career, and his 108 offensive rating was his second worst.

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But in his last game before being sidelined for so long, Green scored 15 points with seven rebounds and two 3-pointers in a win against the Toronto Raptors. He also scored 15 points in two games before in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, a game in which he added five rebounds and was a perfect 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.

Adjusting to a new team is not easy. Green began to find his stride, and with freedom. That’s the feeling Kerr forced on him more than anything. The message was heard loud and clear.

“Before I got COVID, I played for free,” said Green. “I went out of my way, didn’t think too much about the game or mistakes. I just came out and played freely.

“Tonight Steve said to me, ‘Go out and play for free. I know you missed a few games, I know you might make mistakes, but just play through it.’ I had to hear that.’ “

Role players are sorely missed this season. The importance of Green’s role became apparent in his first game back, an unlikely win for a lucky run home.

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