Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green will return to Steve Kerr's lineup this week and will play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
The outspoken star has missed the last 11 games due to a sprained toe on his right foot but will finally make his way back to the court after watching his team both struggle mightily and triumph in his absence.
"Just excited to be back on the floor," he said after Sunday's practice, via ESPN. "It's been a while since I really played basketball, so I'm excited."
Kerr, meanwhile, has hailed Green as the NBA's best defender and is also excited as the player gets ready to make a return.
"He's the best defensive player in the league," the coach said. "So I think our [recent] defensive efforts have reflected that, in terms of just not being as efficient, not being able to cover as much ground.
"But with that said, our Milwaukee game was our best defensive effort of the year. And so we know we're capable of defending without him, but we're just a lot better with him."
"When he's in the game it's just night and day," veteran swingman Andre Iguodala said in agreement.
"As far as trusting him. Those are my best defensive games, especially individual defense because I know where he's at, I know he's behind me. If he's not, he's talking continuously. That's something we're trying to get the young guys to pick up because that's a very special trait that goes unnoticed."
Green, 28, says he hopes his return improves the team's defense but joked that the overall defensive effort against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday almost kept him out longer.
"I pride myself on being the anchor of our defense, so [being] back on the floor, I hope it improves," he remarked.
"I feel like I'm being set up to go out here and get 170 put on our head [Monday], but that's what I take pride in. I like to view that as my side of the floor, being the leader of that side of the floor, getting everybody in the right spots. Or making sure I'm in the right spot and making plays on that side.
"Hopefully, I'm some help on that side. Them boys made it tough for me to come back Monday after that defensive effort they put out there Friday."
What This Means
The Warriors already look their old selves, thanks to Steph Curry's return, but with Green poised to make his comeback, they're likely to still go up a level.
Additionally, DeMarcus Cousins could make his debut this month, but he will have to start things off in the G-League with the team's affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.