Draymond Green may be one of the most decorated defensive players in NBA history, but he doesn't feel that way when he's guarding Taj Gibson, the longtime NBA veteran who signed with the Wizards this offseason.
Green was asked by a fan on his podcast 'The Draymond Green Show' for which non-superstar NBA player gives him the most trouble. Green says it's Gibson and that's been the case for many years.
Green told the backstory in great detail.
"I think for me that person has always been Taj Gibson. I played Taj Gibson in college. I was a freshman and it was his last year of school... Our starting center, Goran Suton, got in foul trouble and so I came off the bench and I had to guard Taj. I was locking that [expletive] up. Now Taj, I don’t if you remember Taj at USC, but Taj at USC was serious," Green explained.
"[Gibson] is still playing. He’s had an incredible NBA career, but Taj at USC was different. I went in, tubby and pudgy freshman, and I was locking it up... I kind of made it a little tough on Taj. I was fronting, I was doing the whole thing. I was mixing the coverages up and everything. I think Taj remember that because every chance he got to play against me after that, he would destroy me. I remember my second year, and I’m never asking for no switch, I’m never asking for no double team. You’re just going to have to destroy me and that’s just what it’s going to be. I had to switch with Jermaine O’Neal. I couldn’t stop Taj and I knew it. Like, this dude’s got my number and I can’t quite stop him. Jermaine O’Neal had to guard him."
Fortunately, Basketball Reference tracks these types of things. Sure enough, Gibson has had some big games opposite Green when playing the Warriors.
While his scoring average against Green (9.5 ppg) is not much different than his career average (9.0 ppg), he has three times scored 15 or more points and four times grabbed double-digit rebounds.
Gibson's biggest game against Green was on Feb. 6, 2014 when he was playing for the Bulls. He had 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals. That was a big-time game for Gibson, who started that night but was primarily a bench player for the Bulls in the 2013-14 season.
It was also before Green ascended to stardom, but Gibson has had some big nights against Green more recently, too. In 2017, he had 15 points and nine rebounds and 14 points and seven rebounds in another. In 2018, he had 12 points and 10 rebounds in one game and then 11 points and 13 boards in a different match-up.
The last time they played, on Feb. 23 of 2021, Gibson gave Green eight points and 11 rebounds, albeit in a Warriors win. Gibson was playing for the Knicks. In fact, Green has won 12 of their 17 meetings over the years, as he has played for the powerhouse Warriors.
Still, all of this may be worth keeping in mind when the Wizards play the Warriors this upcoming season, now that Gibson is in Washington. They will play each other four total times, as the two teams play a pair of preseason games in Japan before kicking off the regular season.
Maybe Gibson will continue to have Green's number.