In 30 games with the Blazers this season, Will Barton averaged just 10 minutes per game. In those 10 minutes per contest, he averaged just 3 points, 1.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, and 0.5 steals. He shot just 38% from the field, 22% from three-point land, and 66.7% from the foul line. So, there were not a ton of expectations coming to Denver when Barton was traded (along with a first-round pick and the soon to be waived Thomas Robinson (Sixers) and Victor Claver) to the Nuggets for Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee.
But the Nuggets were excited about obtaining Barton. We've heard recently that General Manager Tim Connelly has been familiar with Barton since he was about 14 years old and playing ball in Baltimore, Maryland (where Connelly also grew up and has family in the basketball world).
Since joining the Nuggets, Barton has appeared in 10 games and the Nuggets are giving him a long look by playing him 26 minutes per game. He has responded by posting averages of 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals. He's shooting a much improved 47.5% from the field, 31% from distance, and 78.9% from the foul line.
In briefly talking to Barton in the locker room, you get the sense that's he's a very humble 24 year-old who is relishing this new role and his chance to show what he can do on the court. He isn't shy on social media either:
I'm more focused then ever these days— Will Barton (@WillTheThrillB5) March 7, 2015
It's good to see how hungry Barton is, but this question kept coming up: Is his play thus far sustainable? Well, I decided to reach out to Dave Deckard, from the amazing website Blazers Edge, to help us get a beat on Barton - here is our conversation through Reply All:
A big thanks to Dave for taking the time to talk Barton with me. After hearing his thoughts, there could be more upside to Barton's game that we realize. You can't fault the Blazers for wanting a certain thing from their players, but their loss could be the Nuggets gain and visa versa as Arron Afflalo fills a bigger role for the Blazers in the upcoming playoffs. Sometimes trades can be a win-win and it's looking like this could be one of those deals.
Only time will tell, but so far ... pretty darn good.