Warriors Have a Single Wish: For Draymond Green to Play Wednesday Vs. Lakers

OAKLAND -- Draymond Green hasn't practiced in more than a week, since his left knee started barking the morning after he played 20 hyperactive minutes in the Warriors preseason opener on Sept. 29.

On Sunday, as the team held its afternoon practice, Green worked off to the side, which is a polite way of saying trainers are observing every move. This is also known, for the foreseeable future, as the DeMarcus Cousins Plan.

Which is not to imply that Green will miss a significant portion of the season -- or any at all. Coach Steve Kerr has expressed low concern, so it's conceivable that Green will be a full participant at practice on Tuesday.

But what if he still isn't ready to be the Draymond we've come to expect, using boundless energy to blow up opposing offenses or grabbing defensive rebounds and blasting upcourt on those rim-to-rim forays no other NBA power forward does so routinely or with such vision?

What if Green's knee forces him to the sideline for another week or two, or more?

NBA teams are at that point of the preseason when they making the mental and physical adjustment from a training-camp mindset to full preparation for the regular season that begins next week.

"We're looking to ramp up the minutes," Kerr said Sunday. "Probably the last two exhibition games we want to get our starters bigger minutes so they can get their conditioning level ready for opening night."

Green missed the second preseason game, last Friday in Seattle, and will be sidelined Monday night against the Suns, the third of five preseason games. The fourth comes Wednesday in Las Vegas, the fifth Friday in San Jose.

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Kerr hopes Green can return Wednesday, but that's all it is. A wish.

Green doesn't need a full training camp. He's a veteran now, and his understanding of what the Warriors want to do at both ends approaches that of the coaching staff.

But there is something to be said about getting into what players refer to as "game shape," and if a nine-day absence stretches to two weeks or longer that becomes an issue not only for Green but also for the defending champions.

The Warriors don't have much practice in playing without Green, and they've never been without him for more than four consecutive games. Though they are a marvelous 18-4 over the last four years in regular-season games without Green, they learned in the 2016 NBA Finals how much can go wrong without him.

Green plays with such high velocity, often against much bigger opponents, that his body endures an incredible amount of stress. For that reason, Kerr has been emphatic about limiting Green's minutes at center, preferably to zero, this season.

Kerr wants no part of a repeat of last season, when Green sustained a shoulder injury in the seventh game and dealt with it for the rest of the way.

"The plan is to work him back into practice, starting (Monday)," Kerr said. "We'll have a shootaround (Tuesday) and then a practice Tuesday."

Should Green have to sit for even a brief period, the Warriors have options. Youngsters Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney are available to log minutes at power forward. Jonas Jerebko surely will spend some time there, and Kevin Durant can slide over when needed.

Those are backup plans the Warriors hope they don't need. They would much rather experience the sigh of relief that would come with Green recovering to full health sometime this week.

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