The rotations will start to look more regular, if all goes according to Michael Malone’s plans, in the Denver Nuggets fourth preseason game.
The Nuggets' coach said guard Will Barton III returned to action in practice and filled out the starting group for the first time at Sunday’s practice.
“He looked really good, and it was great to get him out there with that starting group,” Malone said. “Yes, we have guys that have been here, that have played together, but it’s been a while. So getting him out there with that unit and creating that chemistry is important. He looked really good, running the floor, attacking the basket, making explosive plays.”
Monte Morris said the 20 minutes of scrimmages went well, playing alongside Barton, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic.
“We dominated. We won the scrimmages,” Morris said. “Will looked good. It’s definitely (important) to have that chemistry with the starting group, flying around, guarding, playing at a high level. That starting five, I feel like anybody can have big nights. I’m excited to get Will back out there, see him healthy again and ready to put on a good display of basketball.”
Malone said Wednesday’s game in Oklahoma City, the Nuggets’ fourth preseason game, would be a chance for the starters to get some minutes together against outside competition and play closer to regular minutes. He expected a portion of that starting five to rest for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Thunder.
“A lot of those guys probably will not play the second night of a back-to-back in the preseason,” Malone said. “That first game in Oklahoma City will be a chance to push minutes, get them a little bit closer to what their game minutes will be.”
Morris used to filling big shoes
Monte Morris, the Nuggets’ presumptive replacement for Jamal Murray to start the season, has been here before.
Morris went back to his college days at Iowa State, when he was tasked with replacing DeAndre Kane, who averaged 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists as a senior, as a sophomore.
“When he graduated, I had to step up and, you know, fill some shoes. It’s not like something I haven’t done before,” Morris said. “I just got to play Monte’s game and elevate. I’m not Jamal Murray. I’m not trying to be Jamal Murray. I’m just trying to be the best (version) of myself that I can be and help the team in any way, shape or form.”
Heading into his fifth NBA season and a chance to prove himself as a starting-caliber NBA guard, Morris is enjoying, not sweating, the chance in front of him.
“It was fun, man. It’s a talented group,” Morris said of Denver’s starting five. “You ain’t really got to do too much, just play your role, be ready to knock down shots and defend. It’s real simple.”