“It’s the combination of a lot of things,” that was Steve Kerr’s answer when asked by Anthony Slater about teams leaving Draymond Green “egregiously” open on the perimeter and daring him to shoot.
No matter how you want to slice it, Green’s lackluster shooting percentage - especially from deep - have matured from a concern to a full-blown issue. Namely, teams have been sagging off Green and conceding the open look. With Green’s three-point shooting percentage dipping all the way down to 22.4% on the season, the gamble has been paying off.
This isn’t necessarily anything new - teams have long held a preference for a Draymond Green three over conceding an open look for one of our elite three-point shooters - but what is new is the degree to which the opponents accept those open shots for Green. It’s not just “lesser of evils,” we are into the full-on “oh yes please shoot that!”
Green’s shooting has been spasmodic
We tend to try and analyze these players as if they are static images, but to understand what’s going on with Green right now, some perspective on his historical performance is useful. I compiled this table using his shooting data from basketballreference.com.
The aspect that stands out most when looking at this season is that even though his shooting percentage is way down, Green is still taking a fair amount of deep shots (for him, anyways). If you look at his rookie campaign, you can see he’s shooting just about as poorly as he ever has (22% this year compared to around 21% as a rookie), but he’s taking significantly more attempts from that range now.
Green isn’t one of our preeminent deep shooters, in fact, his 3.6 attempts per 100 possessions from long range is 10th on the team - below even Andre Iguodala’s 4.2 attempts per 100 possessions. So it’s important to understand that while Green is shooting a lot of threes for him, it is hardly at a detrimental rate. Green is not shooting the team out of games.
The problem is more along the lines of teams starting to give him the Tony Allen treatment. High irony that teams are using our own strategies against us. The first counter was to use Green as a ball-handling outlet when Curry or Klay got trapped, but now it may be time to try something different.
Sounds very much like the Warriors are going to start using Draymond Green more as a screener, in both on and off ball action, forcing his defender into the fray. pic.twitter.com/gFVZZuhu6M— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 26, 2018
So what are these adjustments, then?
As Kerr discusses above, the move now is going to involve getting the ball entirely out of Green’s hands. What this will likely entail would be to transition Green into more rolls and cuts, two play types that he
I talked about this at length earlier in the season, but Green’s evolution as a player on offense has seen him shoot less of what many consider the easiest shot. Look at his reduction in basic spot-up attempts throughout the course of his career.
So Kerr’s big adjustment is going to get the ball out of Green’s hands more. This will negate a key defensive counter that teams have been deploying on us, but we’ll have to watch and see what unintended side consequences come from this.
During today’s media availability, Green was adamant that playing off ball can work to his advantage - and he’s not wrong. But one aspect that he may be overlooking is that a lot of his assists may disappear too, unless the Warriors and Green are able to successfully navigate this adjustment.
Draymond Green, very confident he’ll bust out of his offensive slump: “Don’t worry about my defender. My defender going to pay.” Here’s the full, entertaining quote. pic.twitter.com/EPUOrVCQl0— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 27, 2018
They’ve gotten through much more dire situations before, and just to go back to the earlier analysis, this change may actually work well for Green, given his offensive production profile. This was written back in October, but is strikingly relevant today:
Green isn’t going to turn into Steph Curry overnight, nor would it serve the offense well for Green to completely abscond from taking these shots. Most of these attempts are taken within the flow of the offense, and make or miss, Green will need to continue shooting those open looks or risk gumming up the offense and allowing other teams to dare him to shoot.
Instead, I think that Kerr should try to get Green on more cuts. Looking at the synergy data again, you can see that while not the most used, the cut option is clearly the most effective way for Green to get his points - especially since Durant arrived.
Taking Green out of the ball handling duties is going to be a fairly major shift in how the team operates, but with Kerr saying that he’ll be involved more as a screener, Green may drastically improve his impact.
Cuts have not been a prevalent play type for him, but they have been his most efficient direct weapon on offense. If he really is looking to punish defenders, getting the ball less may actually be Green’s best bet.