Will Barton III's time with Denver Nuggets: Five defining moments
Will Barton III joined the Nuggets five years ago in a trade with Portland and has developed into an indispensable starter on a contending team. He’s a swingman who can make an impact in scoring or come through with a timely defensive play to help his teammates.
With May 28 being Thrill Thursday, Nuggets.com takes a look at his five defining moments in Denver.
5. Arrival in a shrewd trade with the Trail Blazers
It wasn’t the most popular move at the time, but Denver’s decision to trade fan favorites Arron Afflalo and JaVale McGee would net the organization a significant haul.
The Nuggets were able to net their future starting small forward in Barton III, a future first-rounder who would eventually become Malik Beasley and salary cap flexibility that ultimately played a role in acquiring Paul Millsap.
Barton joined the Nuggets having averaged 3.8 points a game in Portland. He’s averaged 14.0 points and 5.2 rebounds since becoming a Nugget. Although Beasley would depart in a trade this season, he turned into an impact reserve during his four seasons in the Mile High City. The Nuggets were also able to acquire a first-rounder in trading the guard in February.
All in all, a big-time move for Tim Connelly and the Nuggets franchise.
4. Bouncing back in Game 3 vs. Portland in the 2019 Playoffs
Barton III had struggled during an injury-plagued 2018-19 season and during the playoff series against the Spurs, the small forward heard boos from the Pepsi Center faithful. Barton III was determined to not let that affect him and responded in a big way against his former team.
Barton III would pour in 22 points and nine rebounds in the Nuggets’ famous four-overtime loss to the Blazers. Though the team lost the game and would ultimately drop the series against Portland, it was a moment that proved Barton III’s resiliency. Despite being placed on the bench, he provided a much-needed spark for the Nuggets as a reserve during the series against Portland.
3. Taking on Kobe
Kobe Bryant and Barton III had a strong relationship that extended from Barton III’s rookie season in Portland. Facing the Lakers all-time star was always a motivator for Barton III and on Dec. 22, 2015, he showed out against his idol.
Barton III would pour in a team-high 25 points to go along with eight rebounds in a 111-107 loss, doing his part to keep up with Bryant, who had 31.
2. Resurgent Thrill in 2019 season opener
Barton III insisted he would return to his best after struggling in the 2018-19 season, even playfully pleading ignorance to the team’s preseason competition at the small forward position. He backed his words immediately in Portland for the Nuggets’ season opener.
Barton III would score 19 points, converting 11 of 12 free throws and added five boards, helping the Nuggets secure an eight-point win over the Trail Blazers. It would be a sign of things to come for the forward, with his stellar play on both sides of the court being invaluable for Malone this season.
“If you were to say Denver should have a second All-Star, Will Barton should get that nod,” Malone said after a practice in February.
1. Pouring in a career-high 37-points against the Bulls in 2017
In Barton III’s first three seasons in Denver, he was mainly a reserve for a team that was deep in the guard and forward posts. The 2017-18 season would serve as a breakout campaign for the former Memphis standout and he announced it in a big way against the Bulls on Nov. 30, 2017.
Barton III would shoot 13-of-19 en route to a career-high 37 points to power the Nuggets to a 111-110 win over Chicago. It was his game-winner at the end of the contest that would ice the game for Michael Malone’s team. Barton III started the season as a reserve but he would end up starting 40 games and averaging a career-high 15.7 points. After the season, he received a contract extension and is now the No. 1 option for the team in the swingman role.