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Spurs guard Danny Green envisions better 3-point play after LASIK

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green refuses to visualize potential eyesight issues as the culprit in a subpar 2015-16 campaign, in which he finished with the second-lowest three-point shooting percentage of his career (33.2).

Still, that didn't stop the eighth-year veteran from undergoing LASIK eye surgery shortly after the team's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.

"My eyesight wasn't that bad to begin with," Green said.

Perhaps that's true. But Green knocked down just 30.1 percent from three-point range during the 2015 calendar year; this, after connecting on better than 40 percent from long range over his first four seasons in San Antonio.

San Antonio waited and waited throughout the season for Green to shake the slump. Then, it appeared Green's struggles were finally subsiding when in January he nailed 49.1 percent from long range. But after the All-Star break, Green watched his three-point shooting percentage sink to 27.7 percent.

Then, surprisingly, Green found his shot again in the playoffs; hitting 24 of his 48 attempts from three-point range.

"I'm not gonna say it was [vision issues]," Green said. "I got the procedure done, [and] it helps. But that wasn't the reason why I was shooting poorly. Some seasons, you have good ones. Sometimes, you have bad ones. Sometimes, it's due to adjusting to chemistry. Sometimes it's due to injury. Sometimes, you just don't shoot it well. Sometimes, it's mental.

"For me, it's just really building that confidence back up mentally, physically staying healthy, fitting into this system and jelling with these guys as fast as possible so that I'm adjusted well, and can pick and choose my spots so I don't shoot as poorly as I did last year."

Green can't afford to, considering more than 60 percent of his shots come from 3-point range, and the fact he's struggled throughout his career to create off the dribble. Green hits just 27.4 percent on pull-up attempts, and he compensated for the long-range shooting woes by attempting fewer shots, which caused his usage rate to dip to a career-low 14.6 percent.

"He's always been able to space the floor with how well he shoots," forward Kyle Anderson said. "But it just takes it to another level when he's consistent with that 40 percent [connection rate]. We know he'll hit shots. We depend on him, and we know he'll knock them down. He's a proven shooter in this league. So with him on the floor, regardless, we have faith in him to take that next shot."

Interestingly, Green's prowess on defense made up last season for what he lacked on the offensive end, according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Green's plus-2.9 defensive rating in ESPN's real plus-minus (RPM) led all shooting guards, as he blocked 2.4 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts.

"I just beat him up, and say, 'What have you done for us lately?'" Gregg Popovich joked. "I'm not sure that [LASIK surgery is] gonna [be] a significant factor in his recovery. He'll be fine. He always plays good defense. So he'll make more shots this year. It just happens. It's called sports. Sometimes, hitters don't hit."

Other times, players wind up taking hits, which is why Green practiced for the first time on Wednesday after missing the first week of training camp and the club's exhibition opener at Phoenix due to a thigh bruise.

Popovich estimated that Green participated Wednesday in approximately 75 percent of the team's workout, but the expectation is the third-longest tenured Spur outside of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili will play on Saturday when San Antonio hosts the Atlanta Hawks at the AT&T Center.

"It's just turning the page," Green said of last season. "It's in the past. It's just the life of a shooter. You can't think about the last shot or the last game. You have to think about the next one. The next one could change the whole momentum of any game or any situation."