Denver Nuggets Outlook: The Thrill, Will Barton

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Not only one of the best scoring options on the Denver Nuggets but also a potential 6th man candidate. Could Will Barton recreate what he did last year?

Will Barton emerged last year and earned the nickname “Will the Thrill.”

He elevated his play to the point of being in the discussion of Most Improved Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. Though he eventually faded out of the Most Improved Player discussion, his consistent play was a bright spot for the Nuggets.

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Also, any Nuggets fan knows that Barton was robbed of the Sixth Man of the Year. Despite Barton being disrespected by the media and its decisions, he will hold an important role for the Nuggets this season.

Dec 14, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) dunks the ball against Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) during the first half at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

His Impact Last Year

Barton is one of the most overlooked commodities in the league. While it may be easy for people like Charles Barkley to mock him for being called “the thrill,” Nuggets Nation knows why he’s earned this moniker.

Last season, Barton premiered as the Denver Nuggets’ key spark off the bench. He proved his value as a 6th man by averaging a solid 5.8 boards per game and 14.4 points per game.

If we dig deeper into his play, one will see that despite being a streaky shooter, Barton had a true shooting percentage of 54% last year. Barton showed last year multiple times that he can be the x-factor in turning the tide for the Nuggets coming off the bench. He showed that he can easily re-capture the momentum with the second unit.

Last year, Will the Thrill had a value over replacement value of 0.6, which is well above the league average. He also showcased a career high offensive rating of 105 and had the second best defensive rating of his career at 106.

With statistics as impressive as these, it is fair to question how Jamal Crawford won the Sixth Man of the Year Award over Barton.

It, in fact, is kinda of insulting to how truly great of a season Will Barton had.

Jan 30, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) makes a pass against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Denver 109-105 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Making the Case for the Thrill

Despite having better stats than Crawford, Barton was robbed of the Sixth Man award last season.

Nuggets Nation deserved to be up in arms about this snub and it is was completely justified if one compared their stats. Crawford’s value over replacement value was only -0.3 and his true shooting percentage was 2% lower than the Thrill’s.

Of course most know that Crawford was probably given the award since he is on a playoff team whereas Barton is not.

Crawford won this over Barton, despite the fact that Crawford plays with 3 All-Star teammates. Now, I’m not trying to take anything away from Crawford. I understand that he is a good player; however when Barton is as close to being the Nuggets next star as anyone else on the team, it’s worth questioning the decision.

If Will Barton can produce these type of numbers or improve upon them this year, then he will make another solid case for Sixth Man of the Year this season.

Feb 13, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton competes in the dunk contest the NBA All Star Saturday Night at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Barton’s Role and Importance

Barton’s role will to be the same sixth man spark off the bench again. However, his importance this year will be amplified.

Barton is one of the key leaders now so he will need to provide valuable guidance to the rookies. Showing great play on the court in order for the youngsters to learn will be vital for the growth of this  Nuggets team.

Obviously the onus to guide the young players will be on all the veterans, but Will Barton will be a very impactful player for them.

Will Barton may have taken a step forward last season, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to think he may take two steps even further this upcoming year.

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