Denver Nuggets: Who Must Step up in Murray’s Absence?
Tragedy struck the Denver Nuggets on April 12, 2021, as the team fell to the Golden State Warriors. The loss was the least of the team’s worries though as their star point guard, Jamal Murray, tore his ACL. As a result, he will be out indefinitely making Denver’s championship hopes even more daunting. Now, the Nuggets will have to try to accomplish the nearly impossible without their second-best player. With that in mind, this begs the question of who will have an increased role with the Denver Nuggets now? Without further adieu, let’s talk about the three players who will have to step up for the team.
Who Must Step up for the Denver Nuggets?
Monte Morris is naturally going to have an increased leadership role now. The backup point guard will most likely be inserted in the starting lineup, especially with recent news breaking of the Nuggets and Austin Rivers closing in on a deal. This makes sense considering Denver will be in dire need of a scoring punch off the bench.
Morris is one of the most steady guards in the league, but now, it will be up to him to bring his game up a notch to help fill the void at the starting point guard position. Expect his efficient assist to turnover ratio to change a bit, but that will be expected with a larger role. With that, his 10.4 points and 3.3 assists per game will go up as well.
As Stephen A. Smith said on First Take, Murray’s absence will mean more shot attempts for Michael Porter. If there is anything we know about Porter, it is that he is a professional scorer. He is already averaging 17.3 points on 53.4 percent shooting from the field while grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game. With more scoring opportunities, expect to see some insane stat lines from MPJ in the near future.
However, he is going to have to do more than score. Porter is going to have to grow up faster as an all-around basketball player and improve as a playmaker at a faster rate. We’ve already seen slight flashes of defensive improvements from him this season, now there will be plenty of chances to improve as a passer and a playmaker in general.
As alluded to with Michael Porter, Will Barton is about to see an increase in the offensive load. This could be beneficial for the team considering he has an unlimited amount of confidence, sometimes to a fault. Barton is arguably the best shot creator on the squad and has proven to be a capable third option in the past. Remember, Barton was a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate the season before he was inserted into the starting rotation.
While that was a bit ago, it is still worth considering along with the fact that he has improved as an all-around ballplayer. Up until this year, his defensive rating has improved each season from the 2015-16 campaign. Not to mention, he tallied close to four assists per game last year. While Barton is a love-hate player within Nuggets Nation, he is going to be counted on more now with Jamal Murray sidelined for about a year.
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