Will Barton started his first game of the season for the Denver Nuggets in their road matchup against the Warriors. Is he the favorite at SG moving forward?
The Portland Trailblazers selected Will Barton in the second round (40th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft. Barton played in 73 games in his rookie season for the Blazers, starting five. However, the following season, Barton saw his role decrease drastically, playing a career-low 9.4 minutes per game. Moreover, he played in just 41 games, half of the team’s total games. With the decrease in play, the Blazers looked to shop Barton around in the 2014-2015 season.
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Will Barton saw an uptick in his minutes at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season with the Trailblazers, playing in 10 minutes per game. However, the Blazers looked to make a playoff push, and after 30 games, they dealt Barton to the Denver Nuggets. The Denver Nuggets traded Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to the Portland Trailblazers for Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver, and a lottery-protected first-round pick. The Blazers sent a nice package to the Nuggets, and the Blazers likely believed Barton would never develop into much more than a role player.
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During the offseason, the Denver Nuggets decided to give Will Barton a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. By tendering Will Barton, this gave the Nuggets the ability to match any offer he may have received from another team. That did not prove to be the case as Barton signed a three-year, $11M deal to remain a Denver Nugget. After averaging 24 minutes per game in 28 games with the Nuggets last season, Barton looked poised for a large role in the 2015-2016 season.
Will Barton entered the 2015-2016 season in a battle with veteran Randy Foye and rookie Gary Harris for the starting shooting guard role. Ultimately, Barton lost out on the starting gig for the first few games of the season; however, he saw significant playing time as one of the first players off of the bench. Despite not starting the first few games, head coach Michael Malone plugged Will Barton in the starting lineup for the Nuggets’ road contest against the Golden State Warriors.
In Will Barton’s first start of the season, he did not disappoint Malone in his decision to start him. Outside of his rookie season with Portland, Barton registered his highest minute total of his career. Will Barton posted 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block in just over 39 minutes played. Barton filled the stat sheet in his first start of the season. It remains to be seen if this was an audition for Barton to steal the starting shooting guard role, but if it was, he passed the test.
During the first six games of the new season, Will Barton averages nearly 26 minutes per game, and if he wins the starting shooting guard role, he should see that number rise or surpass the 30 minute mark. The Denver Nuggets take on Barton’s old team, the Portland Trailblazers at home on Monday, so perhaps, Barton continues to start at the two moving forward. Keep an eye on Barton’s status heading into the November 9th matchup at home. Barton may be in for a huge game against the team that drafted him.