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Draymond destined to rediscover 3-point shot this season

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Draymond Green

This is comeback season for Draymond Green. The conditions are favorable, the circumstances invite it and the Warriors welcome it.

Green will not be named Comeback Player of the Year in 2021-22. One, because no such award exists in the NBA. And, two, because he was good enough last season to be a finalist for one of the league’s most coveted honors.

Green’s comeback will come in the form of his 3-point shot.

There was a time when the Draymond triple, jabbing opposing defenses, was one of many weapons possessed by the Warriors. Then, beginning in 2016-17, it began an annual evaporation, until it was one of the team’s certified weaknesses. It hit bottom last season, when his accuracy fell to 27.0 percent – his lowest since becoming a starter in 2014. Draymond took only 126 3-pointers last season, an average of two per game, making 34. He practically put that toy in a box and pushed it to the darkest corner of the gym.

It will return this season. Despite broad belief that the box is gone for good, Draymond will reopen it, pull out the toy, dust it off and, for the first time in five years, make it shine.

Draymond’s career-high for 3-pointers is 111, in 2014-15, when he shot 33.7 percent from deep. He drained an even 100 the following season, at a career-best 38.8-percent clip. He’ll post similar numbers this season, shooting at least 35 percent and making more than 100.

 

Coach Steve Kerr spent last season downplaying the significance of Green’s 3-ball, pointing out that much of the offense runs through his passing. Green averaged 8.9 assists per game, leading the team in that category for the fifth consecutive season.

Kerr’s messaging changed after the Warriors were bounced from the play-in tournament.

"There's no getting around the fact that when he makes a 3, makes a couple threes, gets 10 or 12 points, we are a better team," Kerr said in May. "Draymond knows that. The whole point going into next year is for me as Draymond's head coach and as the coach of this team to really encourage that kind of aggression but to help that aggression. I’ve got to do more to help Draymond offensively.”

Kerr five months later: “I told Draymond I want him shooting two to three threes every game. If you’re open, let it fly.”

Know that Draymond is prepared to do exactly that. He joked Tuesday that he’ll probably “take five” triples per game.

“I’m going to always pass the ball,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy doing and, also, I think I’m pretty decent at it. That’s a huge part of my role in this offense. So, I’ll always do that.

“But when the shot is there, take it. I’m going to do that.”

The improved spacing created by a roster with perhaps a deeper crew of pure shooters than at any time under Kerr will be a factor. But not the most important factor. There was, after all, plenty of space last season, as defenses, begging Green to shoot, consistently give him four or five feet of room to launch. Rarely did he make them pay.

Which is why the bigger factor is Draymond’s mentality, his self-assurance, his readiness to go from transparent reluctance to absolute willingness.

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The first glimpse of throwback Draymond came during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where he made every 3-pointer he attempted. Sure, it was a total of three. But he did not miss. Kerr, a Team USA assistant coach, watched with approval.

Green brought that mentality into training camp and the preseason, taking six 3-pointers in 54 minutes and making three. The hesitancy is gone, replaced with a hunger to make sagging defenses pay.

“My shot feels good,” Green said. “I’ve put a lot of work into it. It was working for me during the Olympics. You want to carry that over. It feels good. I’ll take it.”

It’s something the Warriors could have used last season. It’s something they need this season. Count on it them getting it.

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