Milwaukee Bucks: Sterling Brown needs to improve from three-point range

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Sterling Brown will need to make improvements on his three-point shooting, especially above-the-break, if he wants to earn a bigger role next season.

Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Sterling Brown faces a steep task to remain a key part of the team’s rotation heading into the 2019-20 season.

Though Malcolm Brogdon‘s departure has cleared a significant hurdle for him to get consistent playing time on a nightly basis, the Bucks’ subsequent moves to bring in Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver means Brown will still have legitimate competition for the position.

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If Brown is to earn a larger role in the team, one of the areas of his game that he’ll need to improve on is in his three-point shooting, particularly on above-the-break threes.

Brown was just a slightly above average shooter from three last season. Over the 58 regular season games he appeared in, he shot 36.1 percent on 2.5 attempts per game.

Much of Brown’s shooting success from distance came from the corners. Brown shot 58.3 percent from the left corner last season on 26 attempts. From the right corner, he made 15 of his 31 shot attempts, good for 48.4 percent from that area of the floor. Many of the attempts he made from the corners were on catch-and-shoot threes.

Because of his strength in the corners, Brown could occupy a spot on the floor that didn’t conflict with where others were strongest. This meant he played several possessions as a spacer in the corner, while others like Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton provided much of the spacing above-the-break for Giannis Antetokoumpo and others to operate.

His ability to hit these shots was valuable, and if Brown can do this on a higher volume in 2019-20, that would be a significant asset to the team.

Where the former SMU Mustang struggled from distance, however, was on above-the-break threes.

Brown attempted 87 shots from above-the-break last season, and he shot just 27.6 percent on those attempts.

His struggles from this location significantly harmed his utility as a floor-spacer. Though his strength in the corners fit better with those who played in the starting line-up, it didn’t mesh as well with the players he was playing with in the second unit. That mitigated his impact as a role player off the bench.

In the playoffs, Brown’s inability to hit above-the-break threes  (or any jumper for that matter) played a major role in why he was dropped from the rotation. The Bucks’ floor-spacing was already cramped with players like Eric Bledsoe struggling with their shot. In short, the Bucks couldn’t afford to have another player on the floor who couldn’t hit anything from behind the three-point line.

With Korver and Matthews now in the fold, Sterling Brown will have to make tangible improvements to his three-point shooting, especially from above-the-break, if he wants to compete for a bigger role.

Korver and Matthews are both superior floor-spacers to him. Both are capable of hitting a high volume of threes from anywhere behind the three-point line, not just in the corners.

As we’ve discussed before in some detail, the Bucks sorely need players who can hit threes, especially catch-and-shoot threes. Given Brown’s inferiority to these other two guys in this skill, he’ll have a hard time earning any meaningful playing time in big games if he can’t make threes with greater consistency.

If Brown can unlock his shot, he could help the Bucks replace much of what they lost on offense with Malcolm Brogdon departing. His efficiency in the restricted area (59.7 percent) wasn’t that far off of Brogdon’s last season (60.5 percent), granted that it was on a much lower volume of shots. Brown is good on drives, and could become even better if defenders have to respect his outside shot more than they do now.

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Improving his shot from three will be the difference between Brown remaining a fringe role-player or becoming a potential starter. With Brown eligible to hit free agency next summer, now is the time for him to prove his worth.