Nuggets look to be straight shooters from long range

Three-point shot important remains important part of Denver offense
by Aaron Lopez

The Denver Nuggets developed a love-hate relationship with the three-point line in 2011-12.

Loved the looks that they had, but hated the results.

The Nuggets shot .332 from beyond the arc last season, which ranked 24th in the NBA and represented their lowest long-range percentage since 2005-06.

Starting with Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nuggets are out to show that last year’s bout of inaccuracy was an anomaly.

“It’s going to be a high priority of the offense,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We’re going to work hard on it. Statistically, if we shoot the three and shoot free throws better, I think we’ll be No. 1 in scoring.”

The Nuggets will be counting on Corey Brewer, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hamilton, Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson to knock down perimeter shots this season. Brewer posted the second lowest three-point percentage (.260) of his career last season, while Gallinari (.328) and Lawson (.365) recorded career-lows.

As a team that thrives by attacking the rim, the Nuggets led the league in paint points last season and are almost unbeatable when they add the element of the three-point shot. Denver is 35-8 when making at least nine threes in a game over the past two seasons, and 19-3 since acquiring Gallinari in a four-team trade on Feb. 22, 2011.

A full training camp, additional practice days between games and offseason individual work should help the Nuggets improve from long distance this season.

Gallinari made a priority of improving his three-point shot while playing for the Italian national team this summer.

“I spent a lot of reps shooting the three,” he said. “My three, I guarantee the percentage is going to be much better this year.”

The Nuggets also are counting on a boost from Iguodala, who shot a career-best .394 from behind the arc in 2011-12. He was particularly good from the corners, shooting .427 (17-of-36).

If Iguodala doesn’t have a clean look from the corner, he can always find Lawson above the top of the key. Lawson made 55.3 percent (21 of 38) of his straightaway three-point attempts last season, which was 21 percent better than the league average.

“I think we’ve got the guys who can do it,” Karl said. “It’s going to be a high priority of the offense. We love the rim. The second shot we want is the free throw, and the third shot we want is the three-ball.”