26. The Dancing Bear
For whatever reason, Draymond Green’s Michigan State moniker has fallen by the wayside as he has grown into being one of the most adaptable and versatile players in the NBA. A doughy but delicate forward who switched across five positions even in the Big Ten, Green has always been a ferocious competitor who could drop his shoulder and plow to the basket or make an otherworldly pass.
Deemed “the Dancing Bear” by his Spartan teammates, the Saginaw native was the 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year and, naturally, named to the All-Defensive Team in his senior season. He was drafted in the second round (say it with me…), 35th overall, and can name every player drafted ahead of him, having long internalized the petty streak and sense of truculence which has epitomized the darker stretches of his NBA career. Also notable for our purposes: bears have remarkable long-term memory.
The Dancing Bear had a relatively slow start in the NBA, serving as the backup to David Lee until Lee went down with an injury early in the 2014-’15 campaign. Green, of course, has played with a chip on his shoulder ever since, racking up various All-NBA and All-Defensive honors as well as being a three-time All-Star and current reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
He is the key to the Warriors’ Death Lineup, having contributed heavily to the two championships they have already won, and has rounded out his offensive game by leading the team in assists. Bring back the nickname. It’s the only thing missing from his game anymore.