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Film Friday: We’re 3-Balling

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re not familiar with Film Fridays, each Friday, I’ll be looking at some recent Denver Nuggets’ games, lineups or something else from a film aspect to try and bring you a piece of content that you’re not getting somewhere else. Feel free to give any feedback positive or negative in the comments or find me on Twitter.

Two weeks without the NBA are now complete. Flash games are prepared to make a comeback. I’ve watched the entire NBA season to this point six times over. Who knows where we’re going to go next, and I’m running low on peanut butter filled pretzels. Clementines, or cuties for you cultured folk, were gone days ago.

Film Friday isn’t stopping yet, and I’ll be here every week to help you guys kick off the weekend. This week, we’re looking at Denver’s 3-point offense. In the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, they were in the top 10 in 3-point attempts, and they were in the top 10 in offense. In the two seasons since then, they’ve slipped out of the top 10, and they’ve been more reliant on efficiency. With some of the shooters they have, maybe Denver should start letting them fly again.

Gary Harris is a 3-and-D Wing

Gary Harris was drafted to play a simple role on the offense, and the team’s been trying turn him into something he’s not. He was at his best in the 2017-18 season where he was shooting 5.9 3-point attempts per game, which was just under half of his per game total. With the other offensive guys that Denver is trotting out, he’s not going to get nearly as many opportunities, While he’s taking about 40 percent of his shots from distance, one third of them are coming from somewhere other than the rim or long range.

When Harris is hitting shots, it opens up the offense for everyone else on the floor because the opponent is forced to honor him rather than letting him chuck up shots assuming he would miss. On this play here, he doesn’t do anything fancy. He just gets open and knocks down the shot. If that’s all he ever did, there would be no complaints about his game. Just let him do what he is meant to do. Bomb away, and lock things down on defense.

A Set Millsap is a Deadly Millsap

Paul Millsap is shooting 44.0 percent from 3-point range this season. If he qualified to be among the league leaders, which is 150 attempts, he would be sixth in the NBA between Doug McDermott and Kelly Olynyk. The key for Millsap’s success from 3-point range this year has been his ability to get his feet set. When he does that, he’s nearly automatic, and you’re assuming that shot is falling. If you get out in transition, he’s an easy trailer at the back end of the play.

Millsap isn’t bombing away from downtown like Kevin Love or Davis Bertans. However, he is stroking his shots at a high level, and that opens the offense up tremendously. Having him down on the block closes up the area that Nikola Jokic has to work with, and you want him to have free roam below the 3-point line. Plant Millsap outside to drain triples, and he’ll continue be one of the best in the business.

A Shooting Barton is a Happy Barton

It’s no secret that Will Barton likes to shoot. When he’s on, he’s one of the best scorers on the team, and he can carry the team by himself for long stretches. His scoring is especially important in the team’s wins. When they win, he shoots 43.2 percent from 3-point range. Compare to their losses, he’s at 28.6 percent. He’s at his best when he’s being aggressive, and it only takes one for those looks to start falling.

Take this play from the Dallas Mavericks game on the night the NBA stopped. He nails this shot just over four minutes into the game, and he finished the night 4-of-9 from 3-point range. He’s not crushing it, but that’s a 44.4 percent night. You’ll take that from the guy that’s supposed to be your second or third-leading scorer. Early makes like that make him be aggressive, and aggressive Barton is a good thing for everyone.

Murray’s Offense Just Hits Different

Jokic is the leading man, and he has a different supporting actor every night. Some nights it’s Millsap or Barton, but the night’s when we see Jamal Murray get into his bag, especially if he gets hot from 3-point range, fireworks are coming. Murray is a 38.5 percent shooter from 3-point range in their wins, but that number drops to 25.3 in losses. He signed a brand new contract, and he’s been inconsistent this season in living up to it.

On this play, Murray does something that I don’t see often enough from him. He gets a switch on a center, and he cooks them for the 3-point bucket. On this night in particular, he was unconscious from everywhere, and it started at the beginning. His 3-point offense is inconsistent in large part due to his lack of volume. If the team were to start chucking more shots from long range, the sky would be the limit for sweet-shooting guard.

Jokic Adds Insult to Injury

In 2017-18, Jokic shot a career-high 39.6 percent from 3-point range. In addition to that being a career high, he also attempted a career-high 3.7 3-point shot per game. Is it possible that year was an outlier? Absolutely. However, I think he’s a talented enough player that he could be shooting a better mark if he were given more opportunities.

You don’t need Jokic to shoot nearly 40 percent from downtown to be successful. They’ve proven that over the last season and a half. However, having a 7’ behemoth that can bomb away from distance and hit a good percentage of his shots just makes life more torturous on the defense. He’s already impossible to guard. Getting him back in the 3-point flow would just be unfair to everyone else.

For those of you that are still here, remember to leave your feedback in the comments or over on my Twitter, and have a fantastic film-filled Friday.