When the Golden State Warriors won 73 games in 2015-16, Stephen Curry was the headliner. He finished that season having made a stupid 402 3-pointers at a 45-percent clip. Klay Thompson made another 276 at 43 percent. But beneath the wave of the Splash Brothers, Draymond Green, one could argue, was the real defensive killer in that offense.
Green shot 39 percent from 3 on over three attempts per game that season. You couldn't leave him, and yet you had to leave him for fear of being torched by Curry and Thompson. Over 68 percent of Green's 3-pointers that season were defined as "wide open" by NBA.com (closest defender at least six feet away), and for a defense hellbent on tracking probably the two greatest shooters ever, to do all that only to watch Green hit his wide-open 3s at a 40-percent clip was beyond demoralizing.
But that season has proved to be an anomaly in Green's shooting history. In nine NBA seasons, it's the only time he's shot better than 33 percent from 3, and the last three seasons he's shot 28, 28 and 27 percent. It didn't matter much when the Warriors were running out Kevin Durant along with Curry and Thompson, but now they don't have the same kind of firepower and need Green to start knocking those shots down again.
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There is potentially good news on that front. Green, who is playing for Team USA and has stated his commitment to improving his shooting this offseason, has been "shooting the hell out of the ball" according to Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is part of Gregg Popovich's Olympic staff.
"I rebounded for Draymond pregame the other day for his shooting routine -- first time I've ever done it," Kerr said last week on 95.7 The Game's Damon Bruce show. "... I'm not kidding -- Draymond is shooting the hell out of the ball. Whether it's in drills ... he is playing with a ton of confidence. I think the last couple months were so good for him after what was a tough season last year."
Shortly after the Warriors were eliminated from the play-in tournament in late May, team president and general manager Bob Myers spoke about the importance of Green rediscovering at least something close to his 2015-16 form heading into next year.
"We've seen Draymond shoot. He's capable," Myers said. "We're not asking somebody to do something they haven't done. When we sat with him [during exit interviews], I said, 'Draymond, if you were me talking to yourself, what would you say?' And he said, 'Shoot the damn ball. I need you to score.'
"He doesn't want to be let off the hook for that. He's not that type of human being. He's not gonna run from it. It requires practice, it requires coming in with a new mindset. We're confident and he seems motivated."
If Green does find his 3-point shooting stroke for next season, it will go a long way toward vaulting the Warriors back into contention.