The Denver Nuggets are off to their best start in almost 30 years and they are not even playing anywhere close to their best basketball. They are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams statistically and their best scorers are struggling to find their offense. Frankly, the Nuggets should be about 4-4 but they have managed to pull together a seven-win squad.
Despite some early season struggles by their main rotation, a few guys have stepped up in their place. Guys like Mason Plumlee, Juancho Hernangomez and Malik Beasley are playing great basketball as of late. However, the biggest surprise this year for Denver has to be the play of second-year point guard Monte Morris.
What Monte Morris has been doing well
Morris spent most of his first season playing in the G-League. The depth chart ahead of him included Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay and half a season with Devin Harris. Well, this year, Mudiay is in New York and Devin Harris is back in Dallas so Morris has stepped up into the back-up role. He has successfully controlled the second unit and is becoming a solid floor general for the Nuggets.
Morris has become a consistent offensive force that Michael Malone trusts. His jump shot has become fairly deadly and he can finish numerous ways at the rim. There is not a shot that I feel uncomfortable with him taking and that’s been a sigh of relief after two years of Mudiay.
Besides his own offensive capabilities, he has been a great facilitator for the second team. According to ESPN.com, he ranks second on the team in assists at 3.6 per game only behind Nikola Jokic‘s 6.6 assists per game. He knows his teammates’ sweet spots and knows how to get his teammates in great scoring positions. He is a large reason to why Denver’s bench unit has been so productive this year.
What Monte Morris needs to keep improving
Even though Monte Morris has been playing very well offensively, he can still improve his overall shooting efficiency. Currently, Morris is shooting 36.9 percent from the field according to NBA.com. While that is not horrible, Morris should look to raise that north of 40 percent to improve his overall consistency.
Also, Morris (much like a majority of the Nugget players) needs to play more consistent defense. I know. I know. Denver is playing great defense so far this year, but there is always room for improvement on that side of the ball. If Morris can help contain perimeter ball handlers from getting to the paint, it will help the defense overall. The help side defenders will not have to leave their assignments and the defense will not have to go into “panic” mode where players are just flying around trying to stop the ball.
Overall Assessment of Monte Morris
After all of this, we all need to remember that Morris is only a sophomore in the NBA. He has a lot of room to grow and mature as a player over the next few years. While I know he still has a few slip ups here and there, he is showing that he will be a great asset for the Nuggets in the long-term!
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