Sure, Aron Baynes' outside shooting has improved in recent years -- but nobody is going to confuse the Australian big man with Steph Curry.
At the very least, his increased proficiency beyond the arc will has added another facet to his game as he prepares to hit the free agent market. Known as a veteran presence with considerable toughness down low, Baynes stepped up his outside shooting over his last two seasons and is hitting free agency at the right time, following the best individual season of his eight-year NBA career.
But for someone who only went 1-for-7 on 3-pointers over his first five seasons, how did shooting the three become part of his arsenal? In part, he credits Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge.
Speaking to Zach Harper of The Athletic, Baynes discussed how he put in extra work on his three-point shooting during the early part of his career in San Antonio and Detroit, but it wasn't until he arrived in Boston that it became part of his game during actual games -- and not just practices.
"When I got to Boston, Brad saw me shooting and he said, ‘Look, if you’re not gonna take that shot, then that’s not the best thing for our team. The best thing is if you’re open, then shoot it,’ " Baynes told Harper. "Danny [Ainge] would always come down and with Brad giving you confidence, Danny would always try to crack one at you. He’d tell me, ‘Look there’s a 3-point line for a reason. You’d better bloody use it.’ "
Baynes took those words to heart -- and credited both Stevens and Ainge for giving him the confidence to fire away.
The results started to manifest in the Celtics' 2018 playoff run. After Baynes went 3-for-21 behind the stripe during the regular season, he buried 11 of 23 three-pointers in the postseason, a 47.8 percent conversion rate. And after going 21-for-61 on threes in his final season with the Celtics, he took off under Monty Williams last season in Phoenix, attempting over four threes per game and hitting over 35 percent of them (59-for-168).
And now, as he enters free agency for the fifth time in his career, Baynes is hoping his ability to stretch the floor at 6-10 will help land him another job -- either in Phoenix or for a fifth NBA team.