Draymond Green was a pudgy seventh grader in Saginaw, Mich., when he decided to grow a huge Afro.
For two years, he had watched his favorite player, Pistons center Ben Wallace, dominate games while barely scoring. Green wanted to be like Wallace. But given that Green couldn’t lift weights or block shots like Wallace, the 12-year-old settled for a disco-era hairdo reminiscent of the black mane flowing from Wallace’s blue and red headbands.
Nearly two decades later, Green has cemented his status as one of the NBA’s best defenders — a reputation that makes Wallace, now one of his close friends and mentors, quite proud. Whether Green is a future Hall of Famer, however, is less clear. As Wallace’s continued absence from Springfield, Mass., has reinforced, defensive-oriented players have a much tougher time getting enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame than their high-scoring peers.
Among inductees who were elected as players and retired after 1960, only two Hall of Famers have averaged fewer points per game in their highest-scoring seasons than Green’s 14 points per game in 2015-16: K.C. Jones (9.2 points per game in 1961-62) and Dennis Rodman (11.6 points per game in 1987-88). Everyone else has averaged at least 15 points per game at least once.
What separated Jones and Rodman from their defensive-minded counterparts was that, in addition to being elite defenders, they were key members of NBA dynasties. Widely regarded as one of the greatest…