OAKLAND — Something is different about the Warriors.
When they won 73 games two seasons ago, they shot more 3-pointers than any other team. They started the trend of shooting so many 3s in the NBA. They averaged 31.6 3-point attempts per game that season when the league averaged 24.1.
This season, teams are averaging 28.9 3-point attempts per game. They’re mimicking the Warriors — what the Warriors used to be. Ten teams are shooting more than 30 3s per game. And the Warriors aren’t one of them. They’re attempting 29.7 3s per game, which ranks 12th in the NBA.
Why are the Warriors moving in the opposite direction from the rest of the league? Why are they shooting fewer 3s this season?
“This wasn’t premeditated,” Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams said after a recent practice. “This is how our team has evolved. (Head coach) Steve (Kerr) never gets in front of the group and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got to shoot more 3s.’ That isn’t the nature of what we do.”
Here’s what Kerr said about 3-point shooting: “We have never been a team that’s focused on volume 3s. We want good shots — good 2s, good 3s. And the league is changing quite a bit. Some teams have seven, eight, nine guys who can shoots 3s. That’s not who we are. We have four or five. So, we just play to our strengths.”
The team that leads the league in 3-point attempts this season and has the best record in the NBA, the Houston Rockets, has nine players who attempt more than two 3s per game.
Those players are James Harden (10.4 3s per game), Eric Gordon (9.1), Trevor Ariza (7.0), Gerald Green (6.8), Chris Paul (6.4), Ryan Anderson (5.5), P.J. Tucker (3.4), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (2.9) and Joe Johnson (2.9).
The Warriors have only five players who shoot more than two 3s per game this season: Stephen Curry (9.9), Klay Thompson (7.0), Kevin Durant (6.0), Nick Young (3.7) and Draymond Green (3.5).
“I don’t think our bench 3-point shooting is what it was,” Adams said. “That’s probably a factor. But our offensive numbers are good. Our pace is good. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing us take more 3s. I like 3s. But we take what comes our way.
“I will say this — our quality of 3-point shots has improved from Year 1 to now. We’ve hit a lot of mindful 3s.”
The Warriors are making 39.7 percent of their 3s, which leads the league. And their offensive rating is 115.3, second-best in the league behind the Rockets. The Warriors still score well. For some reason, they’re just shooting fewer 3s.
“Let’s look at it this way,” Adams said. “We get the best game from most opponents. Opponents are playing hard and aggressively. I think the formula in the league for playing us this year is to try to beat us up and hold and grab as much as you can — I think that has happened.”
Warriors players have their own theories.
“Teams are obviously geared to take the 3 away,” Green said. “That’s everybody’s goal in the NBA today. Could be that.”
“This is the fourth year of the Warriors new system,” Durant said. “Teams aren’t going to just let us shoot 3s all game. The difference now is we’ve got all three levels covered. We can score in the paint. We’ve got guys that can knock down the mid-range.