After last night’s thrashing at the hands of a motivated Golden State Warriors squad, it’s time to look for some positives to cheer up the mood. One player that continues to stand out: 6’5” wing shooter and scorer Malik Beasley. 22 points last night for the 22-year-old, including 6/10 from behind the three-point line. Beasley has settled into a rhythm that goes beyond just the last few games, consistently shooting the ball well all year.

Beasley’s 41.4% mark from behind the three-point line in 2018-19 qualifies him as one of the most efficient shooters in the NBA.

Nobody has made more three-pointers on the Nuggets roster than Beasley this season. Not even noted sniper Jamal Murray with a 500-minute advantage, who has canned just 76/224 threes for just under 34% efficiency. Not Juancho Hernangomez, whose initial breakout has only led to 60 three-pointers this year on 40.3% efficiency. Not even Nikola Jokic, one of the best floor spacing centers in the NBA, who has made just 49 threes on 32% efficiency.

Beasley stands out as Denver’s best floor spacer, especially with Gary Harris and Will Barton sidelined for so long. The Florida State product waited patiently for his chance and has truly made the most of it.

In addition to being a great three-point shooter, Beasley’s efficiency at the rim is notably high for a guard.

This content is no longer available.

With noted explosions to the rim that shake the Pepsi Center, Beasley’s athleticism helps propel him to excellent efficiency within three feet. His 70.9% efficiency at that range is only matched by Mason Plumlee and Trey Lyles, both of which are 6’10” or taller. It’s difficult for guards to be that efficient at such a small stature, especially given that they generally start the play from the perimeter.

Because of this elite combination of perimeter shooting and at-rim finishing (not to mention shooting 20/22 at the free throw line), Beasley is one of the most efficient guards in the NBA overall. With a True Shooting mark of 59.9%, his efficiency puts him among the NBA elite in terms of those to play as many minutes as him.

This content is no longer available.

In addition, no guard Beasley’s age has shot the ball more efficiently this season. The only other comparison is Landry Shamet of the Philadelphia 76ers, who spent three seasons at Wichita State honing his craft before that. This is Beasley’s first real season of work, and he has truly made the most of it.

It’s quite possible that, beyond Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Beasley has been Denver’s third most important player this season. His efficient production has been a constant all year, and Nuggets fans shouldn’t take that for granted. Will it last? Who knows. Right now though, Beasley is showing off the shooting and scoring potential that made him a first round pick in the 2016 Draft.

Now, as Harris and Barton return, the Nuggets’ wing rotation will soon become far more convoluted. Torrey Craig has played well recently, Jamal Murray spends time at shooting guard when he shares the floor with Monte Morris, Juancho Hernangomez has played primarily small forward this season. Despite those factors, the Nuggets must make room for Beasley to continue his development. He has played in every game thus far and should continue to receive as much work as he can handle. When Barton becomes ready for a starting position again, Denver could consider replacing Craig rather than Beasley. The spacing Beasley affords players like Murray, Barton, and Jokic to operate is crucial, and Denver will simply have to trust Paul Millsap to tie everything together defensively in that scenario. When Harris eventually returns to the starting lineup, Beasley would be the first wing player off the bench, accumulating close to 20 minutes of consistent playing time each night.

Whatever the case may be, with the Nuggets wing rotation already handicapped in the offseason and decimated by injuries soon after, fans should be thankful for Beasley. Though Jokic and Murray get the lion share of the credit, he helped save Denver’s season.

This content is no longer available.