Nuggets coach Michael Malone calls Will Barton his jack of all trades, and a quick look at his statistics shows why.
Averages of 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals show his impact. And it goes well beyond that, Malone said.
"One thing you know every night about Will Barton, he's going to bring great effort, energy, and he's going to compete. I just love the makeup that he has, his passion for the game and how hard he plays. I think that's contagious for the rest of the guys as well."
The Nuggets acquired the 6-foot-5 Barton last season at the trade deadline from Portland in exchange for Arron Afflalo, among others.
Barton flourished in his couple of months with the Nuggets and re-signed as a free agent. He got his first start of the season Friday night at Golden State and responded with a jack-of-all-trades line of 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was 2-of-4 from beyond the 3-point line.
"I'm starting fresh," Barton said. "And they embraced me when I came here in the trade. So it was like I wanted to come back and get a full year under my belt and show the fans really, really what I can do. I think I teased them last year and it's just a great feeling, a great vibe from the front office to the players. Everybody wanted me back. So it was just like 'Let's get it done.' "
He signed a three-year, $11 million contract and immediately shifted his focus toward making constant improvement.
"With me it's just all about staying consistent with my shot, whether it's threes or pull-up jumpers or things like that," Barton said. "And just getting better overall in my game and evaluate myself, being critical everyday.
"I'm one of the guys that's hardest on myself. So, every game, every day, even practice. No matter if coach tells me I had a great practice I always think there's something I could have done better."
Malone has deployed Barton in a number of ways, having him play everything from shooting guard to power forward, even some ballhandling duties.
"I just want to be on the court," Barton said. "I know I'm a guard at heart, but different lineups, different situations, coach trusts me to go in there and play the four or the three or point, whatever it may be to go out there, get a win and make plays.
"That's my game — rebounding, scoring, getting some assists, getting out and running, steals, anything. My job is to go fill the stat sheet up."
Christopher Dempsey | denverpost.com | November 8, 2015