Few details in the orbit of the Warriors are scrutinized and debated more than Draymond Green’s 3-point shooting. There’s the respect/disrespect of Stephen Curry, the love/hate of Steve Kerr’s coaching tendencies and then there is Draymond’s 3-ball.
The frequency with which the thing is shoved under a microscope suggests it’s a semi-essential component of the offense when it definitely is not and never will be.
And never should be.
“He’s not a pick-and-pop 3-point shooter,” Kerr said Tuesday after practice, which Green did not attend due to illness. “That's not his role here. His role is to drive our defense, to push the ball in transition. He's working on his shot and we will continue to give him confidence. He knows that if that shot is there, we want him to take it.
“But he makes such an impact in so many other ways, I don't worry too much about the shooting.”
Draymond’s forte is defense, where he aligns teammates and disrupts opposing offenses, sometimes single-handedly.
Offensively, his job is to outrun opposing big men in transition and orchestrate the offense in the half-court. He’s the second-best point forward in the NBA, behind only LeBron James.
Getting 3-pointers from Draymond amount to the basketball equivalent of home runs from great contact hitter in baseball, 40-yard touchdown runs from a fullback in football or getting desirable gifts you never told a soul you wanted. It’s a bonus, wonderful to receive but not required to succeed.
The examinations continue for two reasons.
1. The dramatic and puzzling downward arc of Green’s accuracy, from a career-high 38.8 percent in 2015-16, to 30.8 percent the next season, followed by 30.1 and then 28.5 and, finally, 27.9 last season.
2. Poor deep shooting allows his defender to sag, which can mean that much more attention flowing toward Curry. Or, this season, toward Kelly Oubre Jr. or Andrew Wiggins.
All Draymond has to do is be enough of a threat to force defenders to stick. That’s it.
The need for floor spacing, particularly with Klay Thompson out for the season, is ever more acute. Having four capable 3-pointer shooters on the floor can engender terrific, nearly indefensible spacing. That, for any team, is optimal.
Draymond should keep shooting. Absolutely. It’s wise of his longtime personal trainer, Travis Walton, to avoid emphasizing the 3-point shot during the prolonged offseason. All the better to let it come naturally, through Green’s deep desire to excel. And trust us, Draymond hates to have any part of his game so wide open to criticism. He’s not an insane perfectionist, but he’s close. Knowing Klay’s absence will open up opportunities for himself, as well as Oubre and Wiggins, Green was practicing his 3-ball and he’ll get back to it once he’s cleared to resume workouts.
“The whole idea is that we want to space the floor and get great shots,” Kerr said. “And if there are open 3s we want all those guys taking the shot.”
Kerr wants 3s. Loves them. He’s encouraging everybody with a decent stroke from 15 or 16 feet to extend to 22 or 23. A great example of that was David West, a career 26.5-percent shooter from deep who drained a very respectable 37.5 percent (6-of-16) in two seasons with the Warriors.
If Green can get anywhere close to that, it’s a win for the Warriors.
He can’t get there without shooting. No question he’ll be smart about it. He’s not going to pull from 30 feet, like Damian Lillard or Steph. With his work ethic and his knowledge of the circumstances the Warriors will face this season, it’s safe to assume Draymond will be out to punish languid defenders.
“I have confidence that Draymond is going to help us dramatically, whether his shot is going in or not,” Kerr said. “The guy has been one of the best players in the league for a long time now; I think the best defender. And offensively, sometimes his shot goes in sometimes it doesn't. And we keep winning. That's the bottom line. Because Draymond is a winner.”
The Warriors are better with Draymond shooting 30 percent than no Draymond at all. They’re considerably better if he can push his percentage toward the mid-30s. Can’t do that without taking the shots that will be there.