Draymond Green oozing confidence with 3-point shot, conditioning


Draymond oozing confidence with 3-point shot, conditioning originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not too often that seven 3-pointers are outdone by two. That was the truth of it all, though, Friday night at Chase Center in the Warriors' all-too-close 119-111 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Jordan Poole gave Golden State exactly what was needed in the win. His 14 first-quarter points were huge with Steph Curry in early foul trouble. After struggling with his shot for most of the last month, Poole scored 30 points in the win and made a season-high seven 3-pointers -- the second most of his career.

The biggest shot, however, belonged to Draymond Green. A once 19-point lead was cut down to one with a little over two minutes to go. That's when Green caught a Kevon Looney pass in the left wing and let it fly without hesitation, nailing a game-changing 3-pointer in DeMar DeRozan's face.

"Huge," Steve Kerr said after the win. "Yeah, that was the shot of the night. I mean, they were the aggressor the whole fourth and we were not playing well. We had nothing going on that possession, so that shot was huge."

In order of where 3-point shooting ranks with what Green is known for, the skill sits behind defense, rebounding, passing and being a referee's worst nightmare. One must also always stay ready.

Even while sharing the floor with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, Green was ready to drain the dagger. It all was just a matter of when the shot would happen.

"I was preparing for it the entire possession," Green said. "I knew I would end up open, so it was just a matter of if the ball was going to find me or not. So I was prepared that whole possession.

"If I caught it, I was shooting it, and it came to me, clocking running down, took it and it went in. Balls."

With the way the veteran forward has been shooting from 3-point range this season, it's no surprise he took the shot without second-guessing one bit. He isn't firing up 3-pointers left and right by any means. But he has been extremely efficient.

On Friday night, he went 2-for-3 behind the 3-point line -- making his first and final tries. Through 21 games this season, Green is averaging 1.3 3-point attempts per game, up a notch from his 1.2 attempts last season. The percentage in which Green is making them is a much different story.

He made only 29.6 percent of his 3-pointers last season, which actually was his highest mark since the 2017-18 season. The four-time NBA champion finished the regular season going 16-for-54 from deep in 46 regular-season games. This season, he already has made almost as many 3-pointers in fewer than half the games. Green now is 10-for-28 from long range this season, turning back the clock for a new element to the Warriors' offense.

That's good for a 35.7-percent clip, the second best of his storied career. And it all goes back to the offseason. Perhaps more than ever, Green feels like his touch on the ball is at its best right now around the hoop, on floaters and when he takes it back beyond the arc.

"The last couple years I've put in a ton of time in over the summer with [Travis Walton]," Green said. "Every day, every workout, we work on touch. No matter what the focus is that our workout is going to be, every single day we work on it. Jacob Rubin, same thing. Every time we're on the court we work on touch. After you put so much work in, you just get more and more confidence in it.

"And I think the more confidence you can play with, especially in this league, you give yourself a much better chance at being successful."

Having Green be an option as a 3-point threat is icing on the cake for the Warriors. The real beauty is having him on the court in general.

Last season, he was stuck to the sidelines and street clothes more than ever. A back injury held him out for two months and while he had some big performances in his return, his rhythm never was quite the same. So, what did Green do this offseason?

He never stopped. OK, maybe once or twice.

Over the offseason, the 32-year-old allowed himself to take two breaks: A week off after beating the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, and a little bit of time after his wedding. Besides that, it was time to watch sweat hit the hardwood.

"On any other trip I was on or vacation or whatever part of the world I was in, we found a gym and we got work in," Green said. "I thought it was big for me to -- as you continue to get older, to not get out of shape rather than trying to fight to get back into shape."

Wearing a custom blue No. 23 Team USA soccer jersey, Green explained that he almost wanted this past summer to be like an Olympic summer, where the last season flows into the offseason and into the next season as well. He also played more pickup games than he usually allows himself to.

The work never stopped, but he also found himself in game mode earlier than he typically does.

Twice in his now 11-year career with the Warriors, Green has represented Team USA in the Summer Olympics. He did so in 2016 and 2021. What do both of those summers have in common?

The Warriors won it all both times the season after he played in the Olympics.

Now back to the significance of two over seven. Of course. Green's 3-pointer to give the Warriors a four-point lead in the final two minutes is the main reason why it was the shot of the game. It also was Green's second 3-pointer of the night, his first game with multiple threes this season.

History shows the other team might as well walk off the court when that happens.

Green now has made multiple 3-pointers in 143 regular-season games for his career. The Warriors have won 119 of those games, equating to an 83.2 win percentage.

RELATED: Warriors' second-quarter defense vs. Bulls a recipe for success

"It's great to see Draymond making some threes, but I just like the way he's playing in general," Kerr said. "He's been phenomenal. He's having an All-Star season. Just so good defensively and playing with such great energy. He's doing a phenomenal job staying physically strong and healthy.

"He's working out every day and you can see it. I think he just looks lean and strong and he's playing at a really high level."

Combining determination, work ethic and confidence creates the Hall of Fame career Green has built in the Bay, and the result Friday night was what it has been for a decade now when those factors mix together: A loss for the challengers, and a win for the Warriors.

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