According to Mike Singer of the Denver Post, Will Barton is going to be out indefinitely with the knee soreness he’s been battling the entire time in the bubble.
Barton has almost been an entire no show thus far in the bubble, save for an eighteen minute stint in the first half of the Denver Nuggets scrimmage with the Orlando Magic. He was the only starter in that game to not play the second half. Barton also recently appeared on Court Vision Podcast with Ben Stinar and Jameer Nelson and said he was “definitely banged up right now (but)...shouldn’t be too serious.” Knee soreness is obviously a tricky thing and sometimes a player has to undergo arthroscopic surgery to pin down the actual issue. Singer did not note if any type of surgery is in the cards for Barton or not.
Assuming Barton will not be able to make a return this season, it is a blow for the Nuggets but not one they can’t overcome. The loss of Barton in the seeding games was greatly mitigated by the emergence of Michael Porter Jr, however MPJ struggled in game 1 against the Utah Jazz. Barton has had his own playoff struggles, but as a veteran, vocal leader and in many ways the heart and soul of the locker room, not having him available in these big time games definitely hurts.
It’ll be on more than just Porter to make up for the loss of Will. Torrey Craig will have to continue to keep defenses honest with his outside shooting and if Gary Harris, the other Nuggets starter still yet to play in a meaningful game in the bubble, is able to return the Nuggets will need him to be another scoring option and playmaker like he was in the past. The other area Barton helped, despite being a starter, was serving as a primary playmaker and scorer when the bench is in. Monte Morris and PJ Dozier have filled that role admirably thus far and their strong play is even more vital knowing Barton likely isn’t going to be coming to the rescue.
The biggest blow of all probably comes to Will personally. After being benched last season in the playoffs due to a slow start, there’s little doubt he was going to be looking for some redemption this year in the playoffs. It’s also another nagging injury to add to the list he has suffered over the past two seasons. Barton missed just 21 games over his first three full seasons in Denver, and 20 of those were related to an early season ankle injury and late season foot injury in 16/17. However, he opened the 18/19 season with a hip injury that required surgery and cost him nearly half the season. Even when he did get back he never looked quite right. This year was a chance to bounce back and in many ways he did, but he missed a couple games early in the season due to a toe injury and later missed five more with knee issues. Seven games doesn’t sound like much, but it constituted over 10% of the season when play was suspended due to COVID-19.
While the Nuggets will certainly miss him, the most important thing is for Barton to get right even if it means missing the playoffs entirely. MPJ puts a new wrinkle in the starting rotation, but Barton has been a full time starter for the Nuggets the past two seasons and has the ability to play both shooting guard and small forward, and even some point guard in the pinch. The recipient of a new contract prior to the beginning of last season, Will still projects as a major piece of Denver’s core going forward regardless of whether he remains in the starting lineup once healthy or goes back to being one of the best sixth men in the league.
How much will the Nuggets miss Barton in the playoffs?
This poll is closed
A ton! I doubt they even get past Utah now
Some, he’s a key piece that isn’t easily replaceable
A little, but they are deep enough to overcome
None. The MPJ era is here