Photo Courtesy: @nuggets
Nuggets point guard Monte Morris has shown the ability to be a solid NBA player in his time with the team this season, and it’s something he’ll continue to take advantage of when the opportunity presents itself.
When the Nuggets drafted Monte Morris with the 51st pick in last years draft, it was clear they were getting a seasoned vet who had four strong seasons at Iowa State under his belt. Morris posted the best assist/turnover ratio in college basketball last season and also was first in the category in the 2015 season. Morris never finished outside the top six in the category in all four years at Iowa State and finished his college career with 104 consecutive starts. Morris averaged 12.2 points and 5.5 assists in college and also proved to be steady defender averaging 1.6 steals per game in his four years.
Photo: Associated Press
Morris’s defense is one of his most underrated qualities and it’s something that showed up when the Nuggets faced the Rockets just a couple weeks ago. A day after the trade deadline, the Nuggets went to Houston to face the Rockets and were in need of a back up point guard with Emmanuel Mudiay no longer on the team, and Devin Harris not yet being ready to join the team. In stepped Morris, who played a career high 22 minutes in the Nuggets 130-104 loss to the Rockets. When Morris subbed in near the middle of the first quarter, nine time all-star Chris Paul was the player Morris was matched up against. Morris didn’t shy away from the challenge though stating that he’s a competitor and that he was ready.
“No, after the first and second possession I was ready. I’m a competitor and me and Chris know each other from the Chris Paul camp.”
Morris played well scoring 10 points on 4-5 from the field and also chipped six assists and three steals. When asked about his defensive ability, Morris said it’s all about just about making plays.
“I just try to speed up the game, speed up the tempo when I’m in there and try to get deflections and be a good defender.”
Morris’s ability to speed up the pace of play as a defender bodes well for him in creating ample opportunities to steal the basketball. The opportunity that Morris got in the Rockets game was a chance to show Nuggets coaches and the organization that he has the ability to play at the NBA level. Performing well and showing out in front of his coaches was something Morris knew he had going into the game, and it’s something he definitely took advantage off.
“It was big time, coach called my number early. I was a little ya know, not playing like myself the first time I got in, but the second time when I settled down and realized these guys are the same people I’ve been going up against. It’s basketball so the game was good for me, I took advantage of it and had a good showing.”
In Morris’s time in the G-League this season he’s averaging 18 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. Morris is also averaging 1.8 steals per game and has really used the G-League as an opportunity to improve his shooting. When asked what part of his game has improved most in the G-League, Morris discussed his shooting and how he’s now just letting it fly.
“My shooting for sure. I’m more confident shooting the ball. Being a bigger threat out here and coach says he sees my improvement and I’m up here for a reason and getting better. But my shot definitely, I’m not second guessing when I’m open and I’m just letting it fly.”
Morris is averaging over 48 percent from the field and over 34 percent from three in 32 G-League games so far this season. The G-League season is over a few weeks before the end of the NBA regular season, so there’s no telling if Morris will have to go back down to the G-League before March 24th or not.
With the Nuggets current log jam in the back court, it may be hard for Morris to crack any playing time the rest of the season. But, in his minutes both in the NBA and the G-League, Morris has shown that he’s clearly a guy the Nuggets can rely on to be a steady point guard and affect the game both offensively and defensively. Morris certainly is a competitor and will no doubt be ready for the next time his number is called.