Denver Nuggets Five Questions: Monte Morris

Coming off a breakout 2018-19 season, Monte Morris hopes a similar approach in his third season will help him continue to grow on the court.    “I want to be the same Monte. Lead my unit [the Nuggets reserves] and the rest will take care of itself,” Morris told Nuggets.com in Portland ahead of the team’s season-opening win vs. the Trail Blazers.     If there was one player on the Nuggets who best symbolized the team’s unexpected turn as a No. 2 seed last season, it was Morris.    The Nuggets guard came into the 2018-19 season as the No. 3 point guard, behind Jamal Murray and Isaiah Thomas, and having played a grand total of three NBA games. With the former Iowa State standout being selected 51st in the 2017 draft, there weren’t a lot of expectations for the second-year guard. Similar to Denver’s basketball team, that quickly changed once the season started.    With Thomas sidelined while recovering from injury, Morris seized an opportunity as the Nuggets backup point guard and became one of the most efficient players in the NBA. He was second in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.7) and shot an impressive 49.3 percent from the field, including 41.4 percent from downtown. Entering his third season, can he build on that breakout performance? Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is confident he will.     “He had a great offseason, the guy was here more than anybody,” Malone said last Sunday. “The guy puts so much time into his game. I think what motivated Monte is obviously in the playoffs he struggled…He wants to be better this year. And when we get to the playoffs, he wants to be an impact player.”    In the latest edition of Five Questions, Morris spoke with Nuggets.com to share his expectations for the new season and explained why Denver has the best bench in the league.    Here are his responses:    Going into this season, where do you want to see improvements in your game?   I'm not really a guy who's got personal goals. I feel like if I do everything the right way, the goals will find me -- the achievements will find me. So if I come out there and run my team and play the same basketball [I did last season], we'll be just fine.    How do you like the bench this year?    I feel like we're the best bench in the league. Watching [preseason] has me really excited. As far as going deep, we're not even talking about the other five [the starters]. Just having a bench like that, it's amazing. It gives coach [enough] talent that he can throw anyone out there and we won't miss a beat. That's big time.   Nikola Jokić and coach Malone have been praising your performances in training camp. What's behind that?    [Jamal Murray injects]: Really? I've been giving him buckets!    [Laughs] It's been cool. I'm just trying to get stronger and run, finish better. I think me growing and having that year in the league definitely helped. Going up against Jamal every day, one of the top 10 point guards in the league, I get to lace up against him every day and learn from him is good for me.    Anything unique you did this offseason to grow your game?   Just a lot of reps on my shots. I think I got my legs a lot stronger so I can make more shots and not die down late in the season like I did [last season]. Last year is last year and I'm ready to display what I've been working on all summer.    Final question, this is a successful season for you if ________   If we definitely go to the playoffs and if I'm better defensively. Get more steals and lead my group [effectively]. Try to outplay every team's bench every night. That's my goal and if we can do that, I feel like we'll be in a good position.