Which player is more valuable to the Denver Nuggets - Will Barton or Gary Harris?
Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): This question was harder than I originally thought, and I have to say Will Barton at this current moment. Given that Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap are out right now, Barton is the most reliable scorer on the team. Most of the time, he is coming off the bench, but more often than not, the Nuggets have needed a jolt of energy that he has provided in spades this year. With as terrible as Denver’s bench has been this year and (when healthy) how successful Denver’s starting unit has been, Harris has been a slight luxury rather than a heavy need. Barton has been the definition of a heavy need.
Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): There goes Daniel, trying to get me in trouble with Stiffs commenters again. As I’ve said before, Barton cannot be the ultra-efficient player that Gary Harris is while Harris cannot (or will not) create his own shot the way that Barton does. Their stats with Jokic off the floor (EFG%, PPP, etc) are startlingly similar, though. I can’t really applaud anyone’s defense after the way the guards are getting blown by on the perimeter, either. Harris is crucial next to Jokic, Barton is crucial on a bench with no other reliable scorers. I’m still going Barton but it’s close - which means losing Barton in the offseason could be a Very Big Deal.
Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBAHoops): That’s a tough question to answer, and I actually think it’s pretty hard to compare the two because each of them brings value in a very different way. Gary Harris is consistently very good. He makes solid contributions each night, and the Nuggets can rely upon him to be where he needs to be and he can handle the pressure in moments where they need him to perform. Will Barton has shown that he’s clutch when the Nuggets need someone to step up and take charge. He’s struggled with inconsistency in the past, and I sometimes think he could make an extra pass when he takes certain shots, but overall he’s really been key for the Nuggets this year. I think both are vital to the Nuggets’ roster, but if I have to pick one I would say Harris simply because of how consistent he plays.
Zach Mikash (@ZachMikash): More valuable to the Nuggets? It’s Will Barton. Barton is the only guy outside of Jokic and Millsap who doesn’t need someone to create for him. Harris is awesome and talent wise is on the same level as Barton but he’s the ultra do it all glue guy. If Denver had an actual point guard on the team, or if they had an actual second option for scoring in isolation then the answer would be Gary. However, right now with Jokic and Millsap out and Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray still trying to figure out how to be the Nuggets point guard, Barton is the most valuable player on the team.
Daniel Lewis (@minutemandan): What I like about this question is that there are different ways to interpret it. I believe Gary Harris can be the fourth or fifth-best player on a championship team. I don’t believe Will Barton can be the fourth or fifth-best player on a championship team. Barton thrives when he’s the primary scoring option on the court, and is able to take advantage of lesser talent on second units. The danger for good teams is overpaying for the kind of talents that Barton has. Harris is more valuable to their long term success, but right now, I think it’s hard to argue that anyone is more valuable than Barton is.
The Nuggets are on a long road trip with games against New Orleans, Orlando, Indiana, Detroit, and Boston - which opposing player are you most afraid of?
Blackburn: It has to be Kyrie Irving right? Denver can’t play perimeter defense, and Irving is the most skilled perimeter scorer of the next four games. Number two is a much more interesting debate, and right now, I’d go with Victor Oladipo over Al Horford. While Horford might put up 18, 10, and 6 on 10 shots against Denver, Oladipo has potential to go off for 40 plus points. He’s averaging 23.1 points a night on a surprisingly good Indiana team this year with games of 36, 35, and 31 points against the Raptors, the Thunder, and the Sixers respectively. Those are reasonably good defensive teams, and the Nuggets are not.
Gross: Whoever has the ball in their hands? I mean, the Nuggets aren’t stopping anyone who wants to drive the rim on them and both Irving and Oladipo are likely to get whatever they want, whenever they want as Ryan said. I’d say it has to be Kyrie as well, but really I’m not sure which opposing perimeter players Denver will stop if Dennis Smith Jr. and Yogi Farrell are going to drop a combined 36 on the Nuggets without breaking a sweat.
Douglas: Boston for sure. The Celtics are virtually unstoppable right now even without Hayward. They’re 11-2 at home, and the Nuggets are dealing with a double whammy of disadvantages. They struggle on the road, and they’re without Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic—their two best players. Kyrie Irving seems to have come into his own, and under the expert leadership of Brad Stevens it’s likely the Nuggets will be out played, and out coached. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see Denver win, but I just don’t see it happening.
Mikash: I’m afraid the most of the player on the team you didn’t mention, which is New Orleans. DeMarcus Cousins is going to be defended by a combination of Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles and Kenneth Faried. Here’s hoping he doesn’t go for 50.
Lewis: I’m going to go with Andre Drummond. We know players like Kyrie and Boogie are going to be difficult to contain, but with Drummond, he has the potential to just crush the spirits of the Nuggets. He’s averaging 15 rebounds a game, and has just been unstoppable in the paint for the Pistons. He could have a 30-30 game if he gets Mason Plumlee in foul trouble, which is likely.
The NBA policy that restricts trading players in the first year of their contract expires on December 14, which is the unofficial start of trade rumor season for the league during the season. Which players, for the Nuggets and the league, do you think are going to be rumored to be on the move most frequently?
Blackburn: Wilson Chandler would seem to be the most frequent in Denver as a combo forward who has underperformed. Teams will still covet his skill set as a veteran forward who can play the 3 and the 4. As for around the league? I'm thinking Evan Fournier. The Orlando Magic are clearly a mirage after their hot start, and I can see teams calling about Fournier as a third or fourth wheel on a playoff contender. He can play both wing positions and can shoot from all over, as Nuggets and surely know.
Gross: If the Nuggets injury woes continue and they go on a long losing streak, I would expect Will Barton to be available. His contract can fit on pretty much any team, and most teams could use a bench weapon for a stretch run or playoff battle. Denver won’t get as much since it’s an expiring, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. The Clippers might have a raft of players coming available with their situation - but whether anyone can take them on is another thing entirely.
Douglas: Wilson Chandler—at least I hope. He’s such a great player, but I think the Nuggets could find a better fit at the 3. Also, even though Mudiay has been playing better I do think we will see his name in trade discussions. He’s still not playing up to the level I think we all expected when he came to Denver, so while I think he’s been a great backup for Murray I think the Nuggets could definitely make an improvement there.
Mikash: Seriously how has no one mentioned Faried yet? I get it, Millsap is out and right now the Manimal is getting minutes but the most rumored player to be on the move in Denver is ALWAYS Faried and that shouldn’t change this season. Honestly the Nuggets can survive just fine without him and he has to know that Millsap will automatically move right back into the starting role when he returns from injury (which should be right around the trade deadline). If I’m Faried I’m playing my butt off to showcase my talent while letting everyone know behind the scenes that I’m more than open to being moved.
Lewis: Since everyone else went with a Nuggets player, I’m going to say DeAndre Jordan. He’s an amazing player, on a terrible team that doesn’t have any way to restock their talent or any cap space to bring Jordan back in free agency. He has the potential to elevate a defense from top 15 to top 5, and as long as he’s healthy, he’s a terror on offense in the pick and roll. The Clippers are a train wreck, and Jordan will be gone by the All-Star break.
If Oklahoma City defeats Brooklyn Thursday, they’ll be 12-12, which would mean each team in the Northwest Division is either at or above .500 for the season. Is there a more competitive division in the league?
Blackburn: Absolutely not. It's arguable that none of the Northwest teams have lived up to their potential thus far, and I can see any of the teams breaking out over the next 20 games if the season breaks right. I see every team in the Northwest finishing off in a better place than they currently are (except possibly Utah) unless major trades are made.
Gross: I’m gonna go with no. The Atlantic has a good top-3, the Central is very competitive except for the atrocious Bulls who disqualify them, and the Southeast is a sea of mediocrity. Out West the Pacific is trash below the Warriors, and the Southwest has a pair of teams 8+ games under .500. The Northwest Division is a knife fight in a dark alley. When Jokic gets back in the fight hopefully the Nuggets can stay competitive until the third act of the season.
Douglas: Right now, no. However, their division is not really something I look at. At the end of the season it really doesn’t matter what division everyone is in—where do they rank in their conference? That’s what I’m most worried about right now given the Nuggets’ injuries, and tough road game stretch coming up. I’m very concerned that if they lose too many games they could have a very hard time working their way back up in the ranks for a playoff position.
Mikash: There’s an argument to be made for the Atlantic division which could have 4 of 5 teams at or above .500 after tonight and also has the current best team in the league (record wise) in the Celtics. Otherwise though there’s no one else that comes close. Every division is carrying an anchor (or 4 anchors in the case of the Pacific) except the Northwest. Whats even more remarkable is if the Nuggets and Thunder win tonight then 5 of the top 8 teams in the west will reside in the NW Division.
Lewis: Seriously, it’s like the opposite of the AFC West in the NFL. Every team in the Northwest Division has something to hang their hat on - Portland’s defense, OKC’s star power, Minnesota’s system, Utah and Donovan Mitchell, and Denver and offense. They don’t have the dominant team that can contend for a Western Conference championship, but there’s a real shot that all five teams will be in playoff contention throughout most of the season.
There are 17 days until Christmas - which Denver Nuggets player would you most like to celebrate the holiday with?
Gross: Jokic. I want to know what a Serbian Christmas with that family is like.
Douglas: Barton. He has such a fun personality he seems like a blast to hang out with. I’ve also met him, and he was very kind and engaging.
Mikash: Gotta be Millsap. I’m guessing that $30 million a year salary can make for one hell of a Christmas party. Plus, not like he’s got anything else going on so there’s plenty of time to plan the biggest holiday bash ever.
Lewis: I’m going to stay on brand and say Tyler Lydon. He’d probably go shoot a turkey for dinner too, which would be so cool.
This is from @derek_drago, who submitted his question on Twitter: Will there be a time this season outside of an injury that Monte Morris gets a look?
Gross: Only if Mudiay gets traded, and not for another point guard as Zach says below. There are tanking scenarios where it would come into play, but the easiest way to make it happen would be for a Nugget PG (or even SG) come up lame. I think he’ll get his shot in the NBA, but I don’t expect him to get extended minutes this year with the Nuggets. Next season is a different story.
Mikash: Unless the wheels fall off the season I’m guessing no. Maybe there’s a scenario where the Nuggets trade a PG and don’t get one back in return and that’s how Morris gets called up but it seems unlikely. The only way I see non-injury related Morris minutes are if the Nuggets are mathematically out of the playoffs and effectively looking to next season.
Lewis: I’m going to hold out hope for Mudiay and say no. Statistically, Mudiay is one of the worst point guards in the league. He makes terrible mistakes, takes terrible shots, and plays terrible defense. At some point, the Nuggets will have to admit what they have on their hands and get rid of a bust. But there’s still a chance he makes it. I am extremely skeptical Mudiay ever becomes a positive contributor to winning basketball in Denver.
Final question - what is your favorite Christmas treat to make, and will you share the recipe with us?
Gross: I can make a mean alcoholic eggnog from scratch (so it wouldn’t do some Stiffs writers any good) but mostly I rely on other people to make me the holiday treats I need to scarf down. Bring your recipes, Stiffs!
Douglas: Pumpkin caramel cake. It’s TO DIE FOR. I’m happy to share the recipe, but it will take up too much space here. If you want it, mention me on Twitter (@AshleyNBAHoops), and I will send it to you.
Mikash: Couple years back my family all decided we were sick of eating turkey twice in one month so we switched Christmas dinner to a big Italian feast (despite none of us being Italian). Since then I’ve always been the one to make the Fettuccine Alfredo (which is about as Italian as I am). I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to cooking so nothing comes prepared, everything from scratch....and no, I’m not sharing the recipe.
Lewis: I love eating me some saltine toffee cookies around the holidays. Such a great blend of salty and sweet, it’s my favorite Christmas treat! Okay, stop booing, here’s the recipe if you’re interested.