It is February 24th, and Paul Millsap is leading the Denver Nuggets in 3-point shooting percentage during the 2019-20 season. If you predicted that before the season began, may I suggest going out and buying a lottery ticket?
That is not to say Millsap was a poor 3-point shooter coming into the season. In fact, Millsap shot 33 percent from three coming into this year and made 430 of the 1,286 he had attempted in his career. Most of those came in the last six seasons, as Millsap attempted just 113 threes throughout his first seven years in the league.
Fast forward to this season and Millsap has reincarnated into an insanely awesome version of Kyle Korver. Not only is Korver one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history with a career percentage of 42.8, but Millsap is actually shooting better than he is — 45.1 percent compared to 40.7 percent — this season. 45.1 percent from beyond the arc is by the highest mark of Millsap’s career by far. His last two seasons have actually been the best he has shot from distance in his career as he shot 36.5 percent last season.
For a team that has struggled to make 3-pointers for most of the season, the Nuggets have really benefited from Millsap’s ability to knock down the big shot. It is rare you see Millsap miss a wide-open shot, but opposing teams are still letting him shoot them.
On Sunday when the Nuggets faced the Timberwolves, Millsap was constantly receiving open looks from three and knocked down 4-of-6 from distance, which helped him finish with a game high 25 points. In his five games since returning from injury, Millsap has shot 10-16 from three, a whopping 62.5 percent as a power forward.
Sure, the last five games might be a small sample size, but the other 32 games this year are not. When Millsap is healthy, he’s knocking down shots at an impressive clip, which puts him 3rd in the NBA among the league leaders in 3-point percentage. George Hill (50.8) and JJ Redick (45.2) are the only two players ahead of Millsap
As the Nuggets make their push for the playoffs and beyond, it feels like Millsap and his 3-point shooting are going to play a major role in that. In games where Millsap has made at least two threes, the Nuggets are 8-3 this season. If you rewind to last years postseason, Denver was a perfect 3-0 in games where Millsap drilled multiple threes. It only occurred three times though, and the Nuggets really missed his shooting in several playoff games.
Moral of the story: the Nuggets are better off when Millsap is making threes, which he has been doing all season long. The question is whether or not Millsap will be able to keep it up for the remainder of the season. If he can, he becomes another major threat on a Nuggets squad that no team will want to face come playoff time.