Why Draymond’s 3-point shooting key component of Warriors’ evolution

Why Draymond’s 3-point shooting key component of Warriors’ evolution originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Those who have been in the trenches with the Warriors at any time over the past 11 years testify to Draymond Green’s basketball intellect. There would be times, according to one former assistant, when he would halt practice to correct the coaching staff.

Green recognized last summer that it was time he made an adjustment. The coaching staff agreed.

If the Warriors were to have any chance to compete in today’s offensively charged NBA, Green had to do more than feed Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. He also needed to find a few buckets.

So, Draymond spent countless hours last summer in the gym with his personal training team hoping to fix a 3-point shot that has been unreliable, occasionally grotesque, since 2016. Operation complete. He is, once again, a 3-point threat – even if most of the league seems unconvinced.

The Los Angeles Lakers dared Draymond to shoot Tuesday night and were burned. Green scored all 15 of his points in the first half, shooting 5-of-5 from deep, stunning the crowd and a national TV audience while laying the foundation for a 134-120 victory.

“They were playing off of Draymond, so he took the ones that were there and that helped us get off to a great start,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters at sold-out Arena in Los Angeles.

Green’s first triple came less than two minutes after tipoff, and his next came 92 seconds later. He made three more in the second quarter, as the Warriors took a 71-60 lead into the locker room.

Green entered the game shooting 37.7 percent from distance – his highest efficiency since 2015-16 – and walked out of the building four hours later at 40.2 percent.

After abandoning Draymond for a month – he was 7-of-35 (20 percent) beyond the arc in his previous 16 games – his shot on Tuesday was back to being smooth, on balance and highly effective.

“I had kind of a couple weeks where my shot didn’t feel good at all,” Green said. “But really, I was just staying in the gym putting the work in. And now I’m taking what the defense gives me.

“If they’re going to sag off like they were – I knew coming into this game that they were going to play like that – I just wanted to come out and not hesitate to shoot. Knowing that they were not going to close out, just raise up and shoot it with confidence.”

Green went years without confidence in his deep shot. After draining treys at 38.8 percent in 2015-16, he stayed between 27 percent and 30.8 percent over the next seven seasons. If he was open beyond the arc, opponents mostly shrugged and prepared for the rebound.

But as the Warriors were staying with the formula – light scorers Kevon Looney and Green, joining Andrew Wiggins, Curry and Thompson – that won a championship in 2022 and was effective last season, the NBA was changing. Nearly every other serious team was starting at least four shooters to optimize floor spacing. Denver’s 2023 championship was built on all five starters being 3-point threats.

The Warriors had to evolve. Green, an essential member, also had to evolve.

“He knew that he would be asked to take more 3s,” Kerr said. “We anticipated playing him at the four more often this year with Loon and then, eventually, with Trayce (Jackson-Davis). So, he worked hard at it.

“When a guy makes shots, you just credit him for making them but (also) for putting the work in and really getting his mind right coming into the season.”

Green worked on his body and his shooting form, which looked different almost every time he worked up the nerve to launch.

“Over the years, my shot took a dive, and it was in large part because I couldn’t get in and out of my hips,” he said. “My hips were messed up. So, there’s been a process of getting my movement patterns right.”

That was the start of the journey to a new and improved Draymond. The next step was more significant but also would require a more delicate approach.

“The most important part has been the mental work,” Green conceded. “Because once you lose confidence in something in this league, it’s impossible to do. I had to gain my confidence back, which was the biggest piece of it all in my opinion.”

Green came to camp making 3-pointers at an appreciably higher rate than in recent years. Teammates noticed and encouraged him to keep shooting. He shot 42.9 percent from deep through December and entered March as the Warriors’ most accurate bomber. Yes, better than Curry or Thompson.

Then came the March slide for the Warriors and for Green. They lost more than they won. He went back into the gym.

Which paid dividends on Tuesday. Draymond might never again make five consecutive 3-pointers. If he makes two of every five attempts, the Warriors would be delighted. It’s a shooter’s league. His shot, once a luxury, is needed.

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