Off-season evaluation can be a critical tool for deciding on who to keep and who to let walk. Age, cap hit, personality fit, scheme fit are all determining factors that NBA executives must take into account. Will Barton at the age of 27 is hitting free agency, coming off a career year again, playing the most minutes per game of his career and showing the Nuggets that the Thrill is a treat to watch. An off guard that moonlights as a lanky 6”7 play initiator, Will Barton has become really what he always was, since his playing days in Memphis, a playmaker. And now 3 years into his prime with three years left to go before he begins his slide, he’s sure to be looking for an uptick in his bargain basement 3.3 million per. Darrell Arthur makes double this.
Barton this past season was probably penciled in by coach Malone as the Nuggets 6th man extraordinaire. Too unpredictable to start but just irrationally confident to be one of the best bench players in the league. He’s cut from the same cloth as some of the great microwaves present and past. Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams routinely irrationally shoot their way to 20 point per game averages. Ricky Pierce, via the Sonics and Vinnie Johnson via the Bad Boys, was the original microwave. These men routinely guarded no one, but were impossible to guard on the other end of the floor based on their unpredictable forays to the basket. Vernon Maxwell was so unpredictable as a player his persona followed him into his day-to-day. Barton is cut from same cloth. He can shoot you back in a game, initiate the offense as a primary, flashy passes that wake up the crowd when the Kings are up 4 with time ticking down. He personifies this role for these Nuggets, a huge void will be left if he doesn’t get resigned. I think Lance Stephenson just became available, maybe too irrational?
Barton has made a significant name for himself in the NBA over the past three seasons. Finalist for the 6th man of the year in 2016-2017 and a contestant in the dunk competition, Barton has carved out his niche. He’s a second round over achiever that combined a rail thin frame, a gargantuan smile, and that famous irrational shot selection to become a guy that other teams are probably trying to price out this off-season. What is he due to earn? Probably more than his teammate Mason Plumlee who hovers in the 12 million dollar range. I think for the Nuggets, 3 years at 45 million is the sweet spot. Will, we aren’t a playoff team yet, but we think you can be one of the best 6th men in the league, play over 25 mins a night and lead us to our first playoff birth since Andre Iguodala was in town. I’m sure he could get more, but he’s made his name in Denver. He fits well with the core guards, Jamal Murray and Garry Harris both play well off him and he plays well off them, the bigs love his tempo he plays at a break neck pace, perfectly constructed for exhausting opposing teams in the Mile High Air.