Just as the Denver Nuggets started off the season slow and are now climbing the standings in the Western Conference, Will Barton has also been been on the rise as of late. Prior to the season starting, Barton asserted that he knows he is a starting player in this league. However, when choosing the starting lineups to start the season, Michael Malone opted to go with Gary Harris, the veteran player who’s known for his defense, as the starting shooting guard, and Michael Porter Jr., the extremely talented and offensively gifted player, as the starting small forward. Unfortunately for Barton, that meant that he would be destined to come off of the bench this season. It didn’t take long for him to get an opportunity to fill in as a starter, though. First, Michael Porter Jr. entered health and safety protocols, and then Gary Harris was bothered by a nagging and reoccurring injury.

Even once he became a starter, it was a rough start for Barton in the first half of the season. It seemed as though he was just not able to find his rhythm on the court. This was undoubtedly made worse by a nagging injury of his own to his knee that has forced him to miss some games. Lately, however, Barton has been incredible for the Nuggets, scoring over 20 points in four of the last five games. In that stretch, he’s shot 18/43 from the three-point range and has provided Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with some much-needed assistance on offense.

This week, Barton made a post on Instagram confirming just how much being a starter means to him.

If there’s one thing that has always been the case with Barton, it’s that he is constantly striving to become the best player that he can be. He’s gone from being a bench player with the Portland Trail Blazers that hardly saw the court, to being a solid role player off the bench for the Nuggets, and then eventually to a starter. It’s been a steady but very impressive climb for Barton in his career, and it explains why he takes the accomplishment of being a starter very seriously.

You have to respect the drive and passion, and when it’s backed up with great performances, it’s hard not to love the Thrill.