Draymond's offseason goal is clear, crucial for Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
After a season anchoring the Warriors’ defense and reminding all that his defensive chops are alive and well, Draymond Green is a finalist in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year race. He restored his credibility on that end of the floor.
If he does the same with his shooting next season, the Warriors immediately take a giant leap toward the top of the NBA mountain.
Draymond knows it. Coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers concede it. All three met Monday morning and spent about 90 minutes discussing goals for next season, one of which is Green posing a threat from beyond the arc.
“The good news is we're all aligned in that that opens things up,” Myers said during his end-of-season news conference. “He wants to do it, too, and he's done it before. . .. He's capable. Some of it's a mindset. Some of it is work.
“But we need it. He wants it. He's not going to shy away from that. I think he wants to feel confident in that regard. And so, yes, that ability to be a threat out there is important to us, and we're focused on it and so is he, and we think we can improve in that area.”
Though the Warriors played their best basketball with a starting lineup featuring two non-scorers – Kevon Looney and Green – it surely took a toll on the other three starters, particularly MVP candidate Steph Curry. Teams made a habit of swarming Curry, often with a player straying from Looney or Green.
In today’s NBA, with shooting and spacing at a premium, it’s exceedingly difficult to win consistently with such an imbalance.
“Certainly, with the attention Steph was getting,” Myers said, “we acknowledged scoring was difficult in some of those situations against some really good teams and good game plans.”
Myers’ job is to build a roster that can compete for a championship. It was presumed from the start that the ceiling for the 2020-21 Warriors was a berth in the playoffs. Failing to get there forces the front office to examine not only the outside market but also what’s needed from incumbents such as Green.
Looking back a few seasons, to 2014-15, you might recall the Warriors won the NBA Finals with a lineup featuring Andrew Bogut and Draymond in non-shooting roles. Their contributions to the offense were exquisite passing and screening. That was sufficient for a team that had Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Curry on the floor.
How good was Draymond as the fourth scorer? Extraordinary enough to be the No. 3 scorer, averaging 11.7 points per game, shooting 44.7 percent overall and 33.7 from distance. Mo Speights (10.4) was the fourth scorer, with Barnes (10.1) the fifth.
The same smart opponents that did not ignore Draymond tend to do so now.
Green was Golden State’s No. 8 scorer this season, averaging 7.0 points per game. Jordan Poole was fourth (12.0), James Wiseman fifth (11.5), Eric Paschall sixth (9.5) and Kent Bazemore seventh (7.2). Draymond averaged six shots per game.
No reason to guard someone who sees his shooting light as yellow, if not red, when the team benefits from it being green. Not Day-Glo green, as in imprudent, but green as in do not hesitate to shoot when wide open.
“My point has always been that no matter what Draymond does, he's going to help us win, and that's the truth,” Kerr said. “He's so good defensively and passing the ball.
“But there's no getting around the fact that when he makes a 3, makes a couple 3s, gets 10 or 12 points, we are a better team. Draymond knows that. The whole point going into next year is for me as Draymond's head coach and as the coach of this team to really encourage that kind of aggression but to help that aggression. I’ve got to do more to help Draymond offensively.”
Draymond’s reluctance to shoot allowed defenders to back off and place their energies elsewhere. They could trap Curry. They could, playing Draymond strictly to pass, tighten passing windows, resulting in deflections that often led to turnovers initiating transition.
This Warriors season was, in the end, Death by Live-Ball Turnover.
It was a couple months ago that Draymond said his shooting touch was better and that a few more attempts should bring consistency. During a 12-game stretch from March into early April, he shot 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from distance. Over the rest of the season, Green was 11-of-42 from deep.
At age 30, Draymond spent the pandemic months getting his body ready to make a statement on defense. He succeeded. If at age 31, he devotes considerable time this offseason working on his shot, there’s reason to believe he can succeed with that, too.