Monte Morris is demanding his respect from NBA fans
Remember when Denver Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL, and everyone assumed they were sunk? Monte Morris had other plans.
Morris has been one of the Nuggets’ most unheralded backcourt fixtures in each of the past three seasons, but is finally garnering a bit more of the national spotlight with Murray unfortunately sidelined.
The 25-year-old was terrific in Denver’s first-round series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds while also shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc on four attempts per game.
Morris has displayed good explosiveness off the bounce and made a very tangible impact with his playmaking. He offers the Nuggets a guy who can spot up and serve as an outlet for Nikola Jokic when defenders rush to “The Joker.” In fact, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone gushed about the chemistry between Morris and Jokic:
“The two-man game, the on-court chemistry and synergy between Monte and Nikola was just incredible,” Malone said, via Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. “As a head coach, you love having a player on the floor that is going to run your team, value the ball and make everyone around him better.”
The Grand Rapids, Michigan native rarely makes mistakes. He ranked second (min. 36 GP and 20 MIN) in assist-to-turnover ratio, constantly making the right basketball play and putting his Nuggets teammates in positions to score.
It’s more than just the efficiency with the ball and the relationship with Jokic. The former Iowa State guard also has the intangibles.
Morris has shown a willingness to accept a bench role. He has come off the bench in all six playoff games, though he played nearly 30 minutes per contest. Perhaps most importantly, Morris brings a certain swagger to this Nuggets squad.
That swagger and moxie will be especially important against Chris Paul and a Phoenix Suns team that did a lot of jawing in their series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Morris in particular is likely to be faced with the challenge of guarding and working against Paul, making him one of Denver’s most important players in this upcoming series.
The Nuggets need Morris to play like a star as they go against the Paul-Devin Booker backcourt. Jokic is going to be in for a different challenge on both ends with Deandre Ayton, making Denver’s guard play a possible swing point in the nature of the series.
Fortunately for the Nuggets, Morris seems more than ready to step up and embrace the challenge. Basketball fans should put more stock in Morris as one of the league’s most efficient and talented point guards.