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.

[RELATED: I do: Warriors ready for wedding day at new Chase Center]

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.

Warriors' Steph Curry might wear Mavericks uniform as virtual fan

Warriors' Steph Curry might wear Mavericks uniform as virtual fan

Steph Curry is not physically in Orlando for the restart to the 2019-20 NBA season.

But the Warriors superstar could be making a virtual appearance in the bubble when the Dallas Mavericks take the court in the playoffs.

"When they get to the first round, I might be in there and wear my Dallas uniform and make everybody go crazy," Steph recently told CNBC's Jabari Young.

Why would the two-time NBA MVP do this? The answer is simple: His brother, Seth, plays for the Mavs.

The hope is that Seth is in uniform if and when this happens, as he missed Dallas' last two games because of right leg soreness.

Seth is having a terrific season, averaging 12.5 points and 2.0 assists, while shooting just under 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from beyond the arc.

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

The Mavs practically are locked into the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, and most likely will face the LA Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs.

As for Steph, there's an outside chance he can watch his little brother take the court in person -- not through virtual technology -- later this month.

[RELATED: Why Draymond is 'strongly against' a second NBA bubble]

The Athletic's Sam Amick reported Friday morning that the NBA is exploring the possibility for the Warriors (and the other seven teams not in Orlando) to join the bubble so they can hold organized team workouts/practices.

If this happens, you gotta assume Steph and former Warriors forward Andre Iguodala will be hitting the golf course together.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

NBA ahead of its peers by taking action for social, racial justice

NBA ahead of its peers by taking action for social, racial justice

Programming note: Watch "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" on Friday, Aug. 7 on NBC Sports Bay Area after "Giants Postgame Live."

And on the seventh day, the NBA confirmed its commitment by digging into its deep pockets.

While MLB and the NFL each use one hand to support racial equality and the other as a hollow shield against the raging coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is using both hands to show how it’s done.

The left hand is deflecting COVID-19 so well the league has announced zero positive tests, and the right simultaneously is focused on making America fairer to all.

The NBA Board of Governors announced Wednesday, the seventh day of its restart, that, in alliance with the National Basketball Players Association, it is launching the NBA Foundation for the explicit purpose of empowering the Black community. Furthermore, the league is committing $300 million in initial funding -- $30 million for each of the next 10 years.

In this time of global awakening, with scores of major corporations hanging signs and issuing statements, often utilizing the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” the NBA is taking action.

This level of support is a requirement for real progress and draws strong approval from those long committed to the cause, such as Ebro Darden, global editorial director of hip-hop and R&B for Apple Music and a panelist on “Race in America: A Candid Conversation” on Friday night on NBC Sports Bay Area.

"Is your corporation that you work for actively working to find ways to connect with communities that are underrepresented at your corporation, so that you can train, engage with, and hire individuals from that community, and specifically the black community?” said Darden, who also hosts “Ebro In The Morning” on WQHT-FM in New York. “I know at Apple, that's the conversation we're having all the time. And it goes all the way up to the top leaders, who are a part of the conversation, not only creating internal executions but creating external execution.”

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

It’s one thing for a corporation to push out a BLM hashtag, quite another for them to pledge shifting profits toward inclusion and racial justice. There is, after all, quite a difference between brand activism and meaningful action, between the message a company promotes and its day-to-day internal practices.

A little more than a week after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was photographed kneeling alongside employees at one branch of the giant bank. That same bank has a history of executives making racist comments -- and was accused last week by a Black former financial adviser, Ricardo Peters, who claims he routinely experienced racial discrimination at the company.

Though Nike, for example, was prescient in its decision to fully support the peaceful protest of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, using ads and billboards to further raise his profile, an examination of public records in 2019 revealed the company has more than 300 vice presidents around the world -- and less than 10 percent were Black.

The company in June issued a statement vowing to do better, announcing it would direct $40 million over the next four years toward the Black community while also promising to “continue our focus on being more representative of our consumers.”

That’s the long-term goal. It’s admirable.

Is there any reason why companies riding the current wave of supportive platitudes should be trusted?

“I wouldn’t say ‘trust’ is a word you probably want to use,” Darden said. “I would say the word is probably ‘accountability.’ Can we hold them accountable to those words? What actions, as individuals, whether we work at NBC or whether we work at Apple or whatever corporations we work for, can we expect? And if you work for these corporations that had something to say, what actions can you take on, internally, to hold these corporations accountable to their words?"

“It starts with onboarding,” he continued. “Are our people who are Black being onboarded into corporations and being given a career growth path so that they can become the next executives at this corporation? Are they being given those opportunities?”

They are, for the most part, in the NBA. Moreover, the NBA Foundation is designed to stimulate the economies of underserved areas and create opportunities for those within it. In short, financially support businesses designed to bring racial balance to the job market.

That the NBA consulted with the NBPA indicates that the ownership levels of all 30 teams were willing to listen and then respond.

[RELATED: NBA welcomes Breonna Taylor as new teammate during restart]

With Michael Jordan as the only Black governor (formerly owner) in the NBA, it’s apparent the league has miles to go regarding diversity at the top. With increasingly outspoken superstars expressing a desire to join that select group -- and teams recently creating positions designed to generate diversity -- it’s on the horizon.

The NBA doesn’t always get it right. But its management of COVID-19 within the bubble -- thus far -- and its response in the executive offices are light years ahead of its major-sports competitors.