Scott Wood, a pure shooter’s shooter, has found basketball paradise next to a Marriott in downtown Oakland, Calif.
The best 3-point shooter N.C. State ever had temporarily moved into the hotel last week in advance of the Golden State Warriors’ training camp, which starts on Tuesday.
The Warriors’ practice facility is right next to the Marriott, so whenever Wood wanted to get some shots up, all he had to do was walk down the hall.
Come Tuesday, Wood will have company with maybe the best collection of shooters ever assembled. The former N.C. State guard signed a partially-guaranteed deal with the Warriors and was invited to their training camp.
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“It’s really cool,” Wood said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I just want to make the most of it.”
For Wood, 26, after three years of playing in Spain, it’s not only a chance to play in the NBA but to learn from the best. He is one of five players vying for the last spot on the star-studded roster.
There’s the “Splash Brothers,” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who led the Warriors to the 2015 NBA title and the best regular-season record in NBA history last season.
Curry set an NBA record with 402 3-pointers last season. Thompson was second in the league with 276 – 40 more than anyone else.
And all eyes will be on Golden State’s prized free-agent addition, seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant. And don’t forget Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was a 3-point specialist with Michael Jordan’s championship teams in Chicago.
Basketball for money
Wood is there to compete for a roster spot but also to learn from Curry, Thompson and Durant.
“I’m interested in how they go about their business,” Wood said. “It will be interesting to see their different shooting routines and drills.”
Wood, a four-year starter for the Wolfpack, finished his college career in 2013 with 334 3-pointers, most in N.C. State history and fifth-most in ACC history.
The lanky, 6-foot-7 wing spent the past three seasons playing for Murcia in the ACB league in Spain. He averaged 9.1 points and made 40.3 percent (242 of 600) of his 3s in three seasons.
“It was a great experience,” Wood said of his time in Spain. “I got to play basketball for money, that’s always benefit. Plus, I got to travel and go a bunch of places.”
But after three years, it was time to come home. Wood got married to Toni Ann Williford, a former softball player at N.C. State, in July.
With her family in Angier, and Wood’s still in Marion, Ind., they spent some time as nomads this summer, as Wood put it.
New style of play
The Chicago Bulls, the team Wood rooted for growing up, had showed some interest, so did the Philadelphia 76ers. It was a no-brainer for Wood when the Warriors called.
“They could wind up being one of the greatest teams in NBA history,” Wood said.
But there’s also the matter of fit in styles. The Warriors have an abundance of shooting stars, but they also value Wood’s best skill.
“The way they play the game has opened up the league to a whole new style of play,” Wood said. “It has put a premium on shooting. If you can shoot the basketball, you can play in this league.”
Wood has been able to do that since he was firing up hundreds of shots a day in his driveway in Marion. Actually, as his dad, a former player at Western Carolina likes to tell the story, Wood could shoot before he could walk.
Former Duke guard Elliot Williams, Phil Pressey, Cameron Jones and Elgin Cook are the other players the Warriors invited to camp to compete for a roster spot.
If Wood doesn’t make the Warriors’ roster, he will play for their D-League team in Santa Cruz. Their minor-league team runs the same system, which is tailor-made for Wood’s skills.
Wood’s contract with the Warriors allows him to play for the season in the D-League for their team but still allows him to sign with another team if they want him to play in the NBA.
“Basically, every game would be an audition,” Wood said.
That’s only if Wood doesn’t make the Warriors’ main roster. He’s not looking that far down the road.
He’s ready for camp, even ready to refine his shooting stroke.
“There’s still a lot of things I can still learn,” Wood said.
He’ll get the chance to learn from the best, while getting the shot of a lifetime.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio