First, it was Jamal Murray, Denver’s second-best player and one of the most exciting young guards in the league, who went down with a season-ending ACL tear that could keep him sidelined for a portion of next season as well.
After the Blue Arrow went out of commission, who were the first two guards you thought of to pick up his slack? Will Barton and Monte Morris, right? Well, that was the plan until not one, but both of the so-called ‘next men up’ came down with significant injuries of their own.
Neither suffered anything like a torn ACL or anything of the sort, but they are still expected to miss serious time. When asked last Monday by the Denver Post’s Mike Singer about Morris’ timetable, head coach Mike Malone said that while it’s just a hamstring strain, not a tear, “I don’t know for sure … me, personally, I don’t think he’s going to be back for a little while.”
Barton, for his part, also remains without a timetable to return as he deals with a hamstring strain as well. According to Singer, league sources told the Denver Post on Saturday that Will the Thrill is expected to miss the next several games at the very least. Barton also told Malone that he heard a “pop” in his hamstring, per Singer.
With Denver’s top three guards out for the foreseeable future, the Nuggets will need to lean on the big three of Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, and Michael Porter Jr. In the meantime, PJ Dozier and Facundo Campazzo have slotted into the starting lineup, and the results have not been too shabby.
In eight games without Murray, Denver is 7-1, they’re 5-1 since Morris went down, and they’re 3-0 since Barton got hurt. So, the question is: How has Denver’s Bench Mob picked up the slack and how can they keep the team and fanbase’s title hopes alive?