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Draymond Green: 'I'm one of the best players in the NBA'

OAKLAND -- Draymond Green's point production is down through the first 10 games of the season, but that's about it, and he's proving that he's still a legitimate All-Star.

Even while incorporating seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant, Green continues to find ways to fill the stat sheet. He leads the Golden State Warriors in rebounds (10.1), assists (7.1), steals (2.3) and blocks (1.6).

So far, he has swatted away 16 shots, eighth in the league, and at 6-foot-8, the versatile power forward is the shortest player among the top 13 shot-blockers. He's averaging 10.9 points per game, his lowest since his second NBA season, when he was a reserve.

Some would argue that Green has sacrificed the most on the offensive end while the team attempts to distribute an adequate amount of shots to Durant (27.7 points per game), Stephen Curry (27.2 PPG) and Klay Thompson (18.8 PPG). But Green explained to ESPN that scoring isn't about being sacrificial on this squad; it's about being smart.

"I do turn down some shots, but I think that's just basketball knowledge," Green said to ESPN. "If I'm open and KD's open, if you're smart, you throw the ball to KD and let him shoot it. If I'm open and Steph’s open, if you have any type of sense, you throw the ball to him and let him shoot it. If I'm open and Klay is open, if you have any brainpower, you'll throw the ball to him and let him shoot it. So that's just the way I play the game of basketball."

Green says too often, in many eyes, the value of a player is predicated on how many points he puts up from game to game. He said he was proud that his all-around skill set was awarded his first All-Star berth last season, despite his not having a scoring average near 20 points. He said such recognition would allow for broader assessments on players' value. But he wanted to make one thing abundantly clear: Don't confuse Green's willingness to defer to others in the scoring department as a sign of inferiority.

"I think I'm one of the best players in the NBA," Green said to ESPN. "Am I going to go out and score 30 every night? Absolutely not. But I didn't say I was one of the best scorers. I think I'm one of the best players, and I think anybody should believe that. I think if you don't believe that, you're failing yourself, and you're not allowing yourself to be that ... But I don't say that in a sense of, 'Oh, I'm one of the best. I'm better than Steph, I'm better than KD.' Like, that isn't me. When I just look at the game, that's how I feel.

"But the things that I do are more self-gratifying than anything. I don't do something to say, 'Man, I wonder if they saw that screen I just set. I wonder if they saw what I just did to help him get that bucket.' I don't do that, but I'll run down the court feeling amazing about it. That's just kind of how I am."

Curry knows exactly how Green is.

"What he's extremely good at ... that’s the intangibles of a game," the back-to-back MVP guard said. "Getting a steal here, getting a one-on-one defensive stop here, playmaking in transition, finding an open guy [and] obviously, knock down shots. He can make stuff happen scoring-wise, but with the weapons that we have, he knows when he gets the ball in the middle of the paint, he can pick and choose where to move the ball and get a guy a shot that helps the flow of our offense."

Should the Warriors complete the first half of the season at the top of the Western Conference with their Big Four maintaining their level of play, all four should be in New Orleans for the All-Star game in February.

Green would likely have to be voted in by the coaches. Could the coaching fraternity look to bypass him as punishment for the Warriors' adding Durant to the NBA-record 73-win team from last season?

"I've never thought about that. I don't really think about being an All-Star. I just like to play the game, and all that stuff takes care of itself," Green said to ESPN. "And it usually comes with winning. You win, and those things happen. So I don't really get off into, 'Will we be punished for KD coming over, and if so, will I be that guy?' I couldn't really care less. At the end of the day, being an All-Star is cool and all. That stuff is all fine and dandy, but I'm into the business of winning.

"I'll remember championship rings way more than I'll remember what city I was in for an All-Star game. That's something where I've done it, and it's cool, but that experience and the feeling I got from that and the feeling I got from winning a championship -- it's not even half as close to as good as [winning a ring]."

Green is making a case that his lone All-Star appearance wasn't a fluke. He is surrounded by electrifying shooters and scorers, but his unselfish style of play is not being outshined or going unnoticed. His offensive production might have dwindled a bit, but his impact on the game for the Warriors remains unwavering.

"The only thing I didn't expect to sacrifice was rebounds," Green said. "Anything else, I'm willing to sacrifice. I don't expect to sacrifice rebounds because that's effort, that's wanting the ball, that's boxing out, that's going after it, that's all the things that I believe in. But anything else I was willing to sacrifice coming into the season."