Warriors’ Draymond Green is adding scoring to his skill set.
Around 1 or 2 a.m. many days, Warriors forward Draymond Green’s iPhone lights up with a series of texts from his close friend and personal trainer, Travis Walton.
The messages contain detailed feedback on how Green shot in the previous game. Sometimes to hammer home his point, Walton includes video of the jumpers or floaters in question.
“That’s how we have always done it,” said Walton, who has worked closely with Green, his former teammate at Michigan State, since the
summer of 2013. “Lately, I’ve been saying good things.”
Long known for his defense, passing and emotional leadership, Green is, at best, Golden State’s fourth offensive option. Opposing defenses are so concerned with limiting Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson that Green often has plenty of room to operate.
For the first time in franchise history, Golden State has won seven games in a row by at least 10 points. And with Green averaging 14.6 points on 63.8 percent shooting over Golden State’s seven-game streak, teams have faced a difficult question:
Do they give Green more attention at the risk of leaving the Warriors’ other All-Stars open?
“He’s just such a versatile player,” Thompson said. “He’s the one who really unlocks our offense because he’s like a point forward out there.”
After not scoring in double digits in five of his first seven games this season, Green has recorded at least 10 points in six of his past seven. It is a case study in efficiency. Using a mix of floaters, dunks, layups and wide-open jumpers, Green has attempted no more than 11 shots during the win streak.
With Curry sidelined by a right thigh contusion for Monday’s victory over Orlando, Green poured in a season-high 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting. It’s the result of a diligent, shooting-focused routine. Though many players would be content as one of the league’s premier defenders and facilitators, Green stays after practice to perfect his shot and slogs through a rigorous regimen with Walton each summer.
“I put a lot of work in,” Green said, “so I expected the results to show eventually.”
Four years ago, after shooting 32.7 percent from the field as a rookie, Green phoned Walton for assistance. Walton flew to Oakland and, for three months, shepherded his longtime buddy through a workout aimed at filling the holes in Green’s game.
That summer gantlet became an annual tradition, with Walton spending offseasons in a spare room of Green’s Bay Area home. The arrangement was a driving force behind Green’s rise from seldom-used reserve to indispensable playmaker.
This past summer, Walton tagged along with Green to the Dominican Republic, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Green’s hometown of Saginaw, Mich. It was Walton’s job to check basketballs through airport security and find gymnasiums wherever they landed.
July was devoted to honing Green’s ballhandling and shooting, everything from floaters to three-pointers. The focus in August was on getting Green conditioned for the start of training camp.
Walton, in his first season as an assistant coach with the Clippers’ Gatorade League affiliate in San Bernardino County, returns home from games and scours the video program Synergy for clips of each of Green’s shot attempts. When Green opened the season 6-for-23 from the field, including 3-for-14 from threepoint range, Walton saw no flaws in Green’s shooting motion. In those late-night texts, Walton told Green that shots would start falling soon enough.
“You’ve got to realize the type of player Draymond is,” Durant said after Green’s 20point outburst Monday. “He really works at his shooting. He works at the floaters, the small shots in the lane. He works on that every day, so that allows him to come out and play the way he did tonight.”
Green is so respected as a passer and defender that he was named an All-Star last season despite averaging only 10.2 points per game. However, those inside the organization recognize that Golden State is at its best when Green is finding shots in the flow of the offense. This is a player who went for 32 points in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and shot 50 percent from the field as the Warriors swept the first three rounds of the 2017 playoffs.
“When he starts to make shots,” Walton said, “they’re almost unguardable.”
Draymond Green, between Andre Iguodala (9) and David West, had a season-high 20 points against Orlando on Monday.
Draymond Green dunks in the first half of the Warriors’ 120-117 win over Washington on Oct. 27 in Oakland. Green later mixed it up with the Wizards’ Bradley Beal (3); both were ejected.