Mar 28, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris (14) dribbles the ball around Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris (34) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Mavericks defeated the Nuggets 97-88. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Nuggets are in a difficult Northwest division and having a solid core of young, talented shooting guards will be key as they enter this season.
The Denver Nuggets ended last season with a record of 33-49. While not terrible, it was fourth in their division and not quite good enough to make the playoffs. But, this season could be completely different.
When it comes to the shooting guard position, the Denver Nuggets are absolutely stacked. With third year man, Gary Harris; veteran sharpshooter, Mike Miller; Sixth Man of the Year Candidate, Will Barton, and phenom rookie, Malik Beasley- the Denver Nuggets will certainly be looking for immense production from this position.
Led by Gary Harris, this core position will look to be the backbone of the defense on the starting unit, and then with Will Barton lead the scoring unit of the second team. All-in-all the Denver Nuggets could consider this position their most valuable.
Now, let’s divulge into how each shooting guard will enter the season and how they finished last season.
Among players that were in over 50 games, Gary Harris ranked in the top 25 in opponents three point percentage. His efficient defense is a key that Denver was able to rely upon all throughout the season. He was also able to snag 1.3 steals per game.
Although an excellent defender, Gary Harris also bring the Denver Nuggets a reliable deep threat which they severely lacked. After upping his minutes per game by 19 in his sophomore season, Harris also upped his threes per game from 0.4 to 1.4. Gary Harris finished his sophomore season with a 56.6 true shooting percentage.
Altogether, Harris has improved tremendously from a weaker rookie season, and it will be a site to see him continue to improve his game in the Mile High City. Watch for Harris’ junior year to be just as good if not better than his sophomore campaign.
Expect Gary Harris to continue with his 30+ minutes just like he had last season.
Apr 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton (5) celebrates with teammates guard JaKarr Sampson (9) and guard Emmanuel Mudiay (0) after a play in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Will Barton – Drafted 40th in the 2012 NBA Draft by Portland Trailblazers
After trade sending Barton to Denver changed his career, Will “the Thrill” Barton has completed transformed into the leader of the Denver Nuggets second unit. Will was in the top of the Denver Nugges in virtually every important category.
Second in points, third in rebounds, fourth in assists, third in three pointers made per game, fifth in steals per game- Will “the Thrill” Barton became an invaluable member of the Denver Nuggets instantly.
During the 15 game streak of December, Barton averaged 20.8 points per game which is much higher than his career average of 8.8.
Only 25, Barton will be able to continue to grow with this young squad. With an overall 53.5 true shooting percentage, the Denver Nugget has finally lived up to the hype.
But, overall, the most important state from Barton may be that he was able to be in all 82 games which is rare for any Nugget. He was one of two Nugget that his 80+ games. The other was Jokic, who was in 80 games during his rookie campaign.
Every Nuggets fan should expect to see Barton on the court 25+ minutes again this season.
Feb 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Mike Miller (3) dribbles the ball in front of Brooklyn Nets forward Chris McCullough (1) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Miller – Drafted 5th in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic
A newly resigned Nugget is Mike MIller, and he still offers an exuberant amount of veteran leadership. And, we must not forget that he is still the same old sharpshooter that he always was.
Miller was able to play in 7.9 minutes per game, and he played in 47 games. He only scored 1.3 points per game, and his days of being a top shooting guard are over. Mike Miller is so trusted and pivotal for Denver that during the teams meeting with Dwyane Wade, Miller was present.
Miller has had a tremendous career and at most averaged 18.5 points per game during the 06-07 season with the Grizzles. It is sad that his great career is coming to the end, but he has no better place to be than in the Mile High City training such a young and potentially fruitful team.
I would expect little from Miller this season, but I suppose he will still be much more trustworthy off of the bench than rookie Malik Beasley. Every Nuggets fan should love what Miller had done for this team, and they should continue to cheer and root for him.
Mar 8, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Malik Beasley (5) shots the ball as Boston College Eagles forward Aser Ghebremichael (21) defends in the first half during round one of the ACC Conference tournament at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Malik Beasley – Drafted 19th in the 2016 NBA Draft
Besides being a top talent, this star rookie has recently signed a deal with Nike, and you can read more about that here. Malik Beasley is a pure scorer from the University of Florida State. And, sadly, he may not be able to see much court time during his first season.
Beasley averaged 15.6 points per game for the Seminoles last season, and hopefully he will able to average at least 5.0 points per game this season. Malik Beasley may only get some injury minutes and blowout minutes, but in that time, he could prove his on-court worth. That will be the key for Malik to continue to see time.
I expect Malik to only see about 5-9 minutes per game during his rookie season, and any more than that would be huge for this new Nugget.