Draymond Green's best offensive season came in 2015-16 when the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 regular season games. The All-Star forward averaged a career-high 14.0 points on 10.1 shots per game, also a career high.
That season also was the Warriors' last before Kevin Durant signed with them in NBA free agency in the summer of 2016.
At that point, the Warriors had three of the best offensive players in the league -- Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. With a trio of elite scorers on the roster, Green realized quickly that he needed to pull back on his aggressiveness in an effort to make sure his three teammates were comfortable. He knew that was the best way to make Durant's transition as seamless as possible.
And because of the decision Green made five years ago, his offensive game still is taking time to get back to what it was the first few years of the Warriors' dynasty.
Green became a full-time starter with the Warriors when Steve Kerr arrived in 2014. During those first two years with Kerr in charge, Green averaged 12.8 points on 9.9 shots per game. In the three years with Durant on the roster, Green's numbers fell to 9.8 points on 8.0 shots per game. In the two-plus seasons since Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets, Green is averaging 7.7 points on 6.5 shots per game.
"When Kevin [Durant] came here, I had to make a decision," Green told NBA.com's Steve Aschburner. "And the decision for me was, I can continue to shoot the same shots I’ve been shooting, at the same rate I’ve been shooting ‘em, and it will take us a lot longer to figure this thing out. Or I can sacrifice my shots to get everybody else involved and do all the other things that need to be done to make sure this team can be successful. I made the decision right away that I would be the one to sacrifice shots – I didn’t want Klay Thompson doing that, I didn’t want Steph Curry doing that and I didn’t want Kevin coming in, having to figure out how to play any other way than what he was comfortable playing. So that went on for three years."
Through 30 games this season, Green's offensive production has ticked up. He's averaging 8.4 points per game on roughly the same number of shots he took last season, but his shooting percentage has improved from 44.7 percent last season to 55.1 percent this season. He's shooting a career-high 61.6 percent on 2-point field goals this season.
Green has embraced the facilitator role, but when he does look for his own offense, it generally means good things for the Warriors. As Aschburner pointed out, the Warriors are 24-5 over the last two seasons when Green scores at least 10 points. This season, they are 8-1 when Green reaches double-figures.
But it's a gradual process for the three-time NBA champion.
"The reality is, scoring is a mindset. It’s a mentality," Green told Aschburner. "When you’ve totally shut that off for three years, it’s not as simple as people may think to just turn it back on. So I have spent the last couple years turning that mindset back on. I’ll have these games where it’s clicking right away and I’m in attack mode, and then I’ll have games where I kind of get lost in the shuffle and I’m just doing everything else to make sure we’re successful.
"I am working to make sure that mindset is more constant. I’m working to make sure that’s a nightly mentality. But it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a total mindset you have to change. And like with anything else in life, that takes a while. So I think I’m getting there. I’m getting back comfortable with doing it. But it’s a process.
The Warriors soon will incorporate Thompson back into the lineup after he missed the last two years rehabbing first from a torn left ACL and then a torn right Achilles. Green might defer to Thompson once he's back in the flow of the offense, but Green also might find more shots for himself as the floor is spaced more.
The Warriors are off to a 26-6 start to the 2021-22 season as they head into a titanic Christmas Day clash with the 26-5 Phoenix Suns. Green's defense has been a huge reason for the fast start, but it's clear that when he scores, Golden State generally is in position to win the game.