Draymond GreenPhoto: Getty Images
In the first minute of regulation time against the Houston Rockets on Saturday night, Jordan Poole picked up his dribbling between the legs and whipped a pass to Draymond Green in the near corner. Green caught the pass and rose to pick up his only points of the night. It didn’t affect the bottom line, but Green’s bucket had meaning beyond the box score in a 19-point win over one of the Association’s worst teams. Green’s 581. Triple passed Michael Jordan on his career 3-point made list. Yes, you read that correctly.
If ever there was a case to illuminate how much the game has changed and how numbers deserve context, this is it. Counting stats without context says Draymond Green and Michael Jordan were equal beyond the arc. Green’s legacy will always be linked to his status as an offensive lynchpin in the most commanding shooting roster in league history. However, a large part of its value was its ability to find open shooters or set screens that open their shooters. Green’s triple doubles are more valuable than when he triple shoots. Green is essentially Golden State’s incarnation of Anthony Mason. He’s a career 31.5 percent 3-point shooter with a hunchbacked shooting form and a mean disposition.
Jordan is not only the standard by which all players have been measured, but also the most efficient and productive midrange shooter the NBA has ever seen. He’s also just a 32.7 percent marksman beyond the arc, just a hair better than Green. In distanced contemporary offenses, even the Draymond Greens have to shoot 3-pointers at a higher rate than the most dominant scorers of the ’90s.
Jordan’s 3-point shooting is an often criticized data point, used to discredit him as the greatest player of all time. However, this short-sighted analysis is like considering James Harden as the second-best marksman of all time when later that season he eclipses Ray Allen in second place on the all-time list.
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Jordan’s numbers suggest he was a sub-par shooter. In reality, Jordan played in an era before the effectiveness of 3-point shooting was considered. In 1990-91, the league attempted 7.1 3-pointers per game and made 32 percent of those shots. Today, shots from beyond the arc have increased by 500 percent, while the league’s average shot percentage has improved to 36 percent.
Jordan never included the shot in his repertoire because he didn’t need it in his time. Instead, Jordan retired with the highest career scoring average, in part because he was a virtuoso mid-range shooter, as Steph is between the bow and the logo. Kirk Goldsbery’s chart showing how Jordan’s shooting profile compares to the best shooting guard in the modern NBA shows how the game has changed.
As for Green, passing MJ on the career 3-point list is the latest notch in his belt during a season in which he’s been surprisingly consistent. Green’s three was his only field goal of the night against Houston, and his detractors will use that item as further evidence against Golden State, rewarding him with a contract extension. Aside from a slump in a game against a Houston team that the Warriors sleepwalked through, Green is in the midst of a resurgence after the tense ups and rugged downs he endured last season.
Green remains the league’s most interesting single-digit goalscorer, delivering bone-rattling screens and anticipating where the scorers will stand and then delivering psychic passes before defense can catch up with the present, but he’s getting close to the league average for the first time since 2016’s On Night previously, Green drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing that Kerr dubbed “shot of the night.”
Green has never rolled the ball off his fingertips as easily as it does now. Green will likely face a difficult decision for the front office when he exits next summer. His execution this season makes it even more likely he will and complicates the difficult financial decision team president Bob Myers must make.