Draymond Green's full greatness dependent on rediscovering 3-pointer


Draymond Green's full greatness dependent on rediscovering 3-pointer

SAN FRANCISCO -- I lobbed the question a few feet over the head of Draymond Green, with no idea what to expect.

He caught it with one hand and dunked it.

Q: “Do you have a focus, for you, this year?”

A: “To be great.”

If those three words come true, Green’s impact will take the Warriors to a higher standing, from likely playoff team to possible top-four seed. There’s a wide expanse between the two.

But Green’s greatness encompasses everything a coach could want in a player. He’d play multiple positions. He’d defend at his customary elite level. He’d probably, for the fifth consecutive year, lead the Warriors in assists per game. He’d probably, for the third time in five seasons, lead the team in rebounding. He’d help guide the progress of the team’s influx of youngsters. He’d limit his technical fouls and disqualifications.

He’d also, to punctuate his production, rediscover his 3-ball.

The one aspect of Green’s game that has declined over each of the past four seasons is his accuracy beyond the arc. He went from 38.8 percent, to 30.8 percent, to 30.1 percent to, last season, 28.5 percent. His total attempts also have, for the most part, gone down. After launching at least 250 3-balls four straight seasons, he attempted only 165 last season.

Asked Friday if he plans to bring back the triple, he implied it is likely.

“It’ll just happen as it happens,” Green told NBC Sports Bay Area. “But I probably do need to shoot more. You know, when you shoot two 3s a game, it’s kind of hard to shoot 39 percent.

“So, yeah, I probably do need to shoot it a little more.”

He definitely does. It was logical for Green to limit his 3s when his teammates were Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Durant left for Brooklyn. Thompson will spend most of the season rehabbing after ACL surgery. Only Curry remains.

Historically, when opponents respect Green’s 3-ball, it adds an entirely different dimension to the Warriors’ offense. With the current roster, only Curry is clearly superior to Green from deep. D’Angelo Russell, expected to be the team’s No. 2 scorer, is a career 35.3-percent shooter from deep. Glenn Robinson III is at 36.1 percent, while Alec Burks is at 35.5 percent. The rookies straight from college are still trying to adapt to the additional distance.

Green is motivated to make opponents regain respect for his deep shot because he knows, otherwise, it’ll be far easier for defenses to back off of him and cover more of the floor, tilting toward such teammates as Russell, Burks, Robinson and rookie Jordan Poole. Curry is another matter because he’s always the priority, no matter who else is making shots.

The challenge, then, for Green is to find his 3-point shot while still doing the other things that have made him a three-time All-Star -- all as he serves in his usual capacity of unofficial assistant coach. The youngsters on this roster need his experience and expertise. He knows it and he is optimistic about reaching them.

“There’s a lot more teaching,” he said of training camp. “For us guys who have been here for a while, it’s a little difficult, some of these practices. But that’s the reality of it. We kind of knew that coming in. We’re kind of playing in a players’ role but also coaching a little bit as well.

“You can teach some things about basketball, but you can’t really teach IQ. You can teach people what to do. However, this seems to be a pretty smart team. There’s not really any idiots. You know, on some teams you’ve got some idiots.”

So, for Green, it’s about finding a balance. Shoot a few free throws before teaching Eric Paschall defensive reads. Jack up some 3s after explaining NBA floor spacing to Omari Spellman and Alen Smailagic. Impress upon Willie Cauley-Stein the importance of video study, while studying video. Green need not worry about the defense, because that’s his natural inclination.

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He’s already figured out his system for this season.

“While playing, you teach. While on the sideline, you teach. During film, you teach,” Green said. “But the No. 1 thing is always going to be working on your own game.”

Green is finding time to do that; he was the last man off the court Friday, finishing his individual workout by shooting triples all around the arc and then putting up free throws.

Most of them went in. That’s what the Warriors will need once the games matter. And if that shot is falling, and Green is indeed great, it will alleviate a lot of concerns this season.

NBA rumors: Warriors could start season as late as March if fans allowed

NBA rumors: Warriors could start season as late as March if fans allowed

The Warriors last played on March 10, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers 131-107 at Chase Center a day before the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus.

It reportedly could be as late as a year before they get back in the win column.

While the NBA still is targeting a Dec. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday morning that the league could push back the beginning of next season if there was "a level of confidence that a delay would ultimately result in the reopening of arenas to the public." Wojnarowski reported that opening the season on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), and potentially as late as February or March, provided
"a combination of vaccines, therapeutics and rapid-response-testing" reach a point where public gatherings are possible.

Allowing fans in stadiums and arenas falls under Phase 4 of San Francisco and California's reopening plans. Neither the city nor the state has cleared Phase 2. San Francisco remains on California's watchlist, and the state became the first in the country to have over 500,000 positive tests just under three weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back plans to reopen California's economy.

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The NBA could hold games in practice facilities if the season starts in December, and potentially neutral-site games if some cities allow fans to attend games. Wojnarowski reported that teams playing in cities that don't allow fans in the stands could even move their operations to other cities that do.

Since the NBA first suspended its season, nearly 5 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 160,000 have died. Public-health experts and officials are concerned about the coronavirus' spread worsening in the fall as students return to schools, the weather gets colder and more people spend more time indoors and some cities and states continue not to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said earlier this week the country must decrease its daily case count to 10,000 by September in order to control the coronavirus' spread. The United States had over 60,000 new cases on Friday.

"If we don't get them down, then we're going to have a really bad situation in the fall," Fauci said.

Wojnarowski reported that the NBA, as a result, is considering regional bubbles for next seasons. In one idea Wojnarwoski mentioned, teams would play in a bubble for a month, return to their own cities for up to two weeks and then move to a new bubble with a different group of teams.

[RELATED: Warriors in Orlando bubble reportedly a 'non-starter' for NBPA]

If the NBA's priority becomes a reality, the Warriors would've gone 266 days between regular-season games.

The wait to play again in front of their fans will be much longer than that, and the league seems to be bracing for that likelihood.

NBA rumors: NBPA doesn't want Warriors, non-bubble teams in Orlando

NBA rumors: NBPA doesn't want Warriors, non-bubble teams in Orlando

Here's hoping the Warriors didn't already pack their bags for Walt Disney World.

Following reports that the NBA was exploring the possibility of sending Golden State and the seven other teams that didn't participate in the NBA restart to the Orlando bubble, the National Basketball Players Association reportedly has "no interest" in the possibility.

"It's a non-starter," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday morning. "The inevitable solution for the eight teams left out of Orlando: The NBA and NBPA agreeing upon voluntary workouts in the team facilities, sources said."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Friday that the NBA was looking into sending the Warriors and the seven other non-bubble teams to Orlando to hold practices and workouts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex once the six teams eliminated from the restarted season left the campus. Amick and Shams Charania reported earlier this week that there was a "growing belief" that a second bubble outside of Orlando wouldn't happen due to the logistical hurdles imposed by the continued spread of the coronavirus within the United States.

The NBPA's hesitancy shouldn't be too much of a surprise if recent comments from one of the Warriors' biggest names are any indication.

Warriors star Draymond Green wasn't enthused about the possibility of a second bubble during an interview on "The Steam Room Podcast" earlier this week. Kenny Smith asked Green on Friday during a guest appearance on "Inside The NBA" if he would play in a secondary bubble, and the 30-year-old's response was begrudging at best.

"I'm gonna go to work," Green said, pausing. "I don't know if I'm going to play. I'm going to work."

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Warriors general manager Bob Myers has said the team would be "good partners" and follow the NBA's lead, but coach Steve Kerr likely is a fan of the possibility of in-market workouts that Wojnarowski reported. Kerr said in June that Golden State would be "more interested in practice time" rather than participating in something resembling the NBA's Summer League.

The coach fully expected Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to be on board with a minicamp at Chase Center, too.

"Given that we would be staring at a nine-month break, I would be shocked if any one of those three guys said to me, 'No, I don't want the work,' " Kerr said in June, referring to the possibility of the 2020-21 season starting in December. "They all know they need the work and we all need the work."