Draymond Green has been facing off against Nemanja Bjelica for years, but it wasn’t until they were playing for the same team that the Golden State Warriors veteran realized just how talented the Serbian big man could be.
Green spoke out this week, sharing some praise for his new teammate and how well he fits into Golden State’s rather complicated offense. Bjelica is expected to take on a significant role for the Warriors in the upcoming season, adding some size for a team that otherwise likes to play small.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Warriors!
Green Impressed by Bjelica’s Talent
Speaking to reporters this week, Green had plenty of praise for the 6-foot-10 Bjelica, who was signed by the Warriors this summer after a season split between the Sacramento Kings and Miami Heat, averaging 6.5 points per game for the year. Bjelica will be one of the biggest players in the Warriors lineup this current season, but it was his deft scoring touch that caught Green’s attention.
“I didn’t even know [Bjelica] could make plays like that off the dribble,” Green told reporters on Oct. 12, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I had no f–king clue.”
“Then I’ve been spending a little bit of time with him, and he’s like ‘Yeah man when I was overseas and won EuroLeague MVP, that’s what I was. I made plays, I shot the ball … that’s what I do,’ ” Green said. “I was like ‘I didn’t know you can make plays like that.’ ”
Green said Bjelica’s ability to drive will be a big benefit as teams close out on him and allow him to make plays. The former Serbian national star has shown a strong shooting touch over his career, making just over 38% of his three-pointers. That could make him a good fit in the Warriors offense, which includes a lot of motion and a need for strong shooters, Green said.
“That’s usually something you face when you have a traditional big. We don’t really play traditional basketball, so when he’s getting in the paint he can either finish or you have somebody rotating, then you can make the right play. That’s good to see because he can still have those opportunities. With him making plays like that, it will be good.”
Warriors Newcomes Playing Big Roles
Bjelica is not the only newcomer expected to take a significant place in the rotation. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Monte Poole wrote that fellow free-agent addition Otto Porter Jr. has the chance to be the X-factor for the Warriors this season — though only if he can stay healthy. Porter missed significant portions of each of the last two seasons while dealing with foot and back injuries.
“If Otto can continue to build his conditioning, his health – it’s been a tough couple years for him, so staying healthy is the biggest thing – the guy knows how to play and shoots the hell out of the ball,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
As Poole noted, Porter has been one of the shining stars of the preseason, scoring 15 points in just 19 minutes against the Denver Nuggets while hitting 5-of-7 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the three-point arc. In another contest against the Portland Trail Blazers, Porter scored 19 points in 18 minutes.
READ NEXT: Steph Curry Gets Honest About His Long-Term Future With the Warriors