The Nuggets are third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, trailing only last year's Finals participants Miami and Oklahoma City. Surely, such an elite offense must be giving the bulk of its possessions to some highly efficient scorers. So who in the Nuggets' rotation takes the most shots on a per minute basis? Is it sharpshooter and foul drawing machine Danilo Gallinari? Perhaps it's speedy playmaker and underrated finisher Ty Lawson. If not one of them, it must be put-back specialist and interior beast Kenneth Faried, right? None of the above! The Nuggets’ leader in per minute field goal attempts is Corey Brewer.
On a per 48 minute basis, Corey somehow manages to launch 21.2 shots. Ty Lawson, by comparison, attempts just 18.6. Corey’s true shooting percentage (which accounts for 3 pointers and free throws) is a mere 50.7%. To put that in perspective, the Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA’s worst shooting team, convert 50.2%. The 29th ranked 76ers shoot 50.8%. When the guy who takes the most shots on your team converts them at a rate comparable to the league’s worst offenses, you’re likely not a very good offensive team. That the Nuggets have excelled in spite of Brewer’s recklessness is a testament to how good they are and how good they could be if their best perimeter defender exercised some restraint on the offensive end.
A closer look at Corey’s numbers reveals that the problem lies almost entirely in his 3-point shooting. Corey is shooting 29.2% from distance this season, and is at 29.7% for his career. By comparison, the league’s worst 3-point shooting team this season by is the Timberwolves, who shoot 29.8%. Clearly, Corey is not much of a deep threat.
There’s no shame in having a low three point percentage if you don’t shoot them very often. After all, everybody will need to launch a desperation heave from beyond half court to beat the buzzer from time to time. And occasionally a perimeter player will need to put up a three late in the shot clock when all other options have been exhausted. The problem is that Corey is far from just a last-resort 3-point shooter. Apparently under the impression that he is the second coming of Reggie Miller, Corey launches 7.5 threes per 48 minutes. That’s more than anybody on the Nuggets not named Danilo. It’s also more than James Harden, Brandon Jennings, and even notorious chucker Jimmer Fredette.
It needs to stop. Corey is too valuable in other areas to have his production offset by an irrational confidence in the three ball. Replacing just a few of Corey’s errant threes with some better shot attempts from more efficient Nuggets could add 2 or 3 points per game. In a tight Western Conference, that could be the difference between a first round exit and a trip to the Finals.