Denver Nuggets' Position Season Recap: Guards
Players: Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Isaiah Thomas
Points Per Game: 54.9 (16th in NBA)
Assists: 12.8 (28th)
Turnovers: 6.4 (9th)
Field Goal Percentage: 44.4 (9th)
Three-Point Percentage: 37.2 (6th)
Plus/Minus: 2.0 (6th)
Review: The Nuggets’ guards took a big step forward in the 2018-19 season as they were one of the more efficient groups in scoring and avoiding costly turnovers.
Denver saw its guards go from being 19th in the league in turnovers (7.6) in the 2017-18 season to 9th this campaign. Monte Morris was a big factor in that improvement as the reserve guard was second in the NBA in assists-to-turnover ratio (5.71). Jamal Murray also showed growth in that area as he improved his assists per game to 4.8 from 3.4 the previous season, while maintaining the same amount of turnovers per game at 2.1.
The Nuggets’ unique offense, which utilizes their center Nikola Jokić as the orchestrator, explains why the guards’ assist totals are lower than average in the league. However, the team’s point guards did show plenty of growth in playmaking. Murray had his career high in assists this season with 15 against the Mavericks on Dec. 18, while Morris became one of the top backup playmakers in the league because of his heady play on the ball.
Several players also raised their performances in scoring thanks to expanded roles. Malik Beasley and Morris both went from averaging under four points a game in the 2017-18 season to averaging 11.3 and 10.4 points per game respectively. Both men also shot above 47 percent from the field and were even more impressive from downtown. Morris converted 41.2 percent of his attempts from downtown, good for 13th in the NBA, while Beasley hit 40.2 percent of his three-point shots (16th in NBA).
Lastly, while Gary Harris struggled in the regular season due to injury, he remained one of the NBA’s top two-way players. He is arguably the Nuggets best perimeter defender and he elevated his game in the postseason. The starting shooting guard averaged 14.2 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, up from his 12.9/2.8/.424 line in the regular season.