When it comes to the recent history of the Denver Nuggets, perhaps no one has been more steady and reliable than Will Barton. The epitome of a role player, Barton has molded to the Nuggets' needs each and every year. And in his seventh season in Denver, he did more of the same.
Over the years, Barton has built a strong on-court chemistry with Nikola Jokić, and can be found roaming the perimeter to receive one of the MVP's signature passes for an open look. As the team's starting shooting guard in 2021-22, Barton provided significant minutes in their push towards the postseason.
Typically, when NBA players go from a bench player to a starter -- or vice versa -- their energy level and efficiency change. Sometimes, players perform better when they start or come in as a reserve. What has made Barton so vital for the Nuggets is his ability to remain consistent regardless of role.
While Jokić is the defining player of the current era of Nuggets basketball, Barton has been there every step of the way. In 2021-22, Barton proved that by etching himself into franchise history, becoming the Nuggets' all-time three point leader.
Barton, now 31, showed up each and every night for a team that desperately needed his services on the perimeter.
Barton's Season Timeline
With the injury to Jamal Murray being known from the beginning of the season, it was clear that Barton was going to play a major role for Denver. And in the early days of the campaign, he delivered in a big way.
Barton averaged 33.5 minutes per night through the first 12 games, hitting over 40% of his threes and putting up strong numbers across the board. One of Barton's best performances of the year came during this early stretch, scoring 30 points in a win against the Indiana Pacers.
And while his hot shooting would slowly cool down, he refused to let it affect his productivity.
He scored in double figures in each of his next 11 games, reaching similar scoring averages despite seeing a five-percent decrease in his field goal percentage. 11 games in a row in double figures marked his second-longest streak of the season.
After two missed games and three difficult outings, Barton returned right back to his usual self, reaching 11 straight games in double figures for the second time this season. Almost immediately after, he would reach 12 games in a row scoring 10 or more points, the longest streak of his season.
On Feb. 24 -- the first game back from the All-Star Break -- Barton put together a season-high 31 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists, and a block. This effort came in a blowout win over the Sacramento Kings and was coupled with an incredibly efficient 11-of-17 shooting.
Barton's historic night came just over one week later, on March 4 against the Houston Rockets. By hitting back-to-back three pointers in the third quarter, Barton topped J.R. Smith on the Nuggets' all-time three pointers made leaderboard.
After over seven years in the Nuggets organization, it stood out as perhaps one of the most fulfilling moments of Barton's impressive career.
But Barton didn't use that as an opportunity to rest or take his foot off the gas pedal. Over his next 14 games, he shot 39.8% from three as the Nuggets continued their fight for a postseason berth.
When the Nuggets finally did clinch their place in the Playoffs, Barton missed the final game of the regular season, just his 11th missed game of the year. Over the course of the season, Barton never missed more than three games in a row, another testament to his availability and consistency.
In the Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors, it could be argued that Barton was one of the team's best players behind Jokić. He shot nearly 40% from three for the series, finishing the five-game stretch with 13.8 points per game and 5.6 rebounds.
Facts and Figures
Barton played -- and started -- in 71 games for the Nuggets this season, hitting 32.1 minutes on average. He finished the campaign with 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 43.8% from the field, 36.5% from three, and 80.3% from the free throw line.
Barton finished as the Nuggets' third leading scorer behind Jokić and Aaron Gordon. He was also No. 3 in assists per game behind Jokić and Monte Morris.
The 10th-year guard was the Nuggets' three-point king in 2021-22, hitting 157 for the year, over 25 more than the 2nd-ranked Bones Hyland. Barton ranked third on the Nuggets in VORP and fifth in win shares.