Denver Nuggets Stat of the Week: Malik Beasley’s 3-point percentage
Malik Beasley broke out on the scene during the 2018-19 season. After relatively quiet rookie and sophomore campaigns, the former Florida State guard established himself as one of the premier threats from beyond the arc, and a very capable bench scorer.
As he was given a bigger role in the rotation, Beasley responded with a breakout season worthy of Most Improved Player of the Year consideration. The 22-year-old guard’s numbers improved across the board as he was a key cog in the Nuggets’ machine.
The driving force behind Beasley’s value in the 2018-19 campaign was his elite 3-point shooting. At 40.2 percent (which ranked 16th in the league) on exactly five attempts per game, Beasley was arguably Denver’s best 3-point shooter throughout the season. Although he didn’t finish first in percentage (Monte Morris knocked down 41.4 percent) or attempts (Jamal Murray shot 5.5 threes per game), Beasley’s percentage and volume made for a deadly combination. It is important to note that Beasley still led the team in total threes made and per-36 minutes, Beasley would have easily ranked first on the team in attempts at 7.8.
Beasley’s volume of attempts should only increase moving forward, especially if he can settle in as an elite shooter (38-41 percent). 54 percent of Beasley’s shot attempts came from beyond the arc last season, while an additional 25 percent came around the rim. The result is a very analytics-friendly shot chart that results in an impressive true shooting percentage of 59.9 percent.
Beasley was one of only four players in the NBA to knock down at least 150 3-pointers last season while playing less than 2,000 minutes. Of that group, the former first-round pick ranked first in Win Shares and total points scored.
However, Beasley doesn’t just thrive when facing backups. As a result of injuries to Gary Harris and Will Barton, Beasley received ample opportunities in the starting lineup. In 18 games as a starter, he played 31.6 minutes per contest and averaged 15.9 points per game. Furthermore, he connected on 55.1 percent of his shot attempts, including 50 percent from three and 93.8 percent from the free-throw line. Given the amount of attention teammates Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray command, Beasley slots in as an ideal floor-spacer and knockdown shooter in the starting lineup.
Beasley can thrive as a catch-and-shoot supporting player in Denver’s offense, which prioritizes ball and player movement in order to find the best shot each time down the floor. The fourth-year guard shot 42.3 percent on 3-pointers in which he didn’t take a single dribble before the shot attempt, while he also shot 43.6 percent on threes classified as wide open (when there is no defender within six feet of the shooter).
An area where Beasley can grow is his ability to be a more dynamic, off-the-dribble shooter. When he took one dribble before shooting, Beasley connected on 36.4 percent from downtown. As he dribbled more before shooting, his percentages suffered. Although the sample size was very small, Beasley shot 1-of-15 from three when he took anywhere from 3-6 dribbles before releasing the shot.
Heading into 2019-20, Beasley will continue to fight for consistent rotation minutes, especially with players such as Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant expected to be in the rotation during the upcoming season. With his ability to light it up from downtown, space the floor and fit in seamlessly as an off-ball player, Beasley should be counted on to continue providing his sweet-shooting in the 2019-20 season.