Warriors have reason to believe JaMychal Green’s past self shows up

The Warriors’ expected addition of veteran forward JaMychal Green, who reportedly will accept a buyout from the Oklahoma City Thunder and make San Francisco his next home after becoming an unrestricted free agent, doesn’t jump off the page at first glance.

He isn’t the biggest name. There were others with more known pedigrees on the open market. His stats last season well…they weren’t great. But just as they have done so in the past, and just as they did earlier this offseason with the signing of Donte DiVincenzo, the Warriors are banking on the JaMychal Green of the past to show up, and they have proof to back their thought process up.

Green, 32, has spent his whole eight-year career in the Western Conference between the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. He has played 23 regular-season games against the Warriors, tied for his third-most against any opponent. In that span, Green has averaged 7.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Last season, though, he wasn’t close to those numbers.

Across the board, Green had his worst statistical campaign last season. He averaged 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the field with an ugly 26.6 percent from 3-point range. Along with still having a strong overall shooting percentage, Green also shot a career-high 87.1 percent from the free-throw line, a number that usually correlates to a much better clip from deep.

How much reason is there to believe Green’s 3-point percentage should climb exponentially as a Warrior? The 2021-22 season sure looks like an anomaly.

That 26.6 3-point percentage was 13.3 percent worse than the previous season, 6.7 percent lower than his previous career-low from his second season as a pro and 11.4 percent lower than his career average through the 2020-21 season.

In the 2020-21 season, Green shot 39.9 percent on threes for the Nuggets, while averaging 3.4 long-distance attempts per game. He played the Warriors three times and went 4-for-10 on 3-pointers, and stepped up in the Nuggets’ lone win over Golden State. In that victory, Green scored 15 points, shot 5-for-10 from the field and 3-for-4 on threes, snatched nine rebounds and was a plus-12.

His plus-minus for that win was a game-high. Better than Nikola Jokic, and better than Jamal Murray.

What should make the Warriors even more excited about bringing in Green is the 2019 NBA playoffs. Specifically, Green’s showing against the Warriors in the first round. Over six games, Green averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. More importantly, he shot 53.5 percent from the field and an eye-opening 52.2 percent (12-for-23) on 3-pointers.

Of his 23 3-point attempts in that Warriors-Clippers series, 20 were catch-and-shoot attempts and all were either considered open or wide open. With the talent and scoring threats he’ll be surrounded by on the Warriors, Green should be able to find plenty of uncontested shots beyond the arc. He isn’t going to create his own shot much from there, if at all, but he can be a knock-down threat as a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter.

All of his 3-pointers were assisted last season. In fact, in the last three years, every one of Green’s 204 threes have been assisted. This past season, 95 percent of Otto Porter Jr.’s three came off assists, and the two have very similar traits.

Green is listed at 6-foot-8 and 227 pounds. Porter is 6-foot-8 and 198 pounds. Green is a career 47.2 percent shooter and 36.6 percent 3-point shooter. Porter has career clips of 47.7 percent overall and 39.8 percent from deep. But Green has averaged 5.7 rebounds per game, compared to Porter’s 5.1 and is more athletic with the ability to still get above the rim.

He also should be able to play in back-to-backs, and the Warriors shouldn’t have to worry about a long injury history.

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Looking at the Warriors’ departures, Green is a clear Porter replacement, plus his size and length help make up a bit for the Nemanja Bjelica loss. Add in the fact that Green will be the latest player on what looks like a more athletic Warriors roster — he had 50 more dunks than Porter last season — it’s clear patience paid off for the reigning champions.

General manager Bob Myers knows how to put the pieces together, creating a perfect puzzle. There’s no reason to doubt what looks to be his latest steal.

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