The Denver Nuggets have officially reached the halfway point of the 2019-20 season. With a 29-12 record, Denver sits in second place in the Western Conference and has done well to navigate injuries in recent weeks in order to maintain a high level of play.
While the first quarter of the season was highlighted by the Nuggets’ dominant defense, the second quarter has been a complete 180-degree turn, as the team’s offense has fueled their success while the defense slipped. On the season, Denver owns the eighth-ranked offense and the 10th-ranked defense (per Cleaning the Glass, which excludes garbage time).
There have been ups and downs through the first half of the season, but the Nuggets have to be pleased with their record and overall ability to navigate a tough schedule in recent weeks, with several back-to-backs that followed a season-long five-game road trip.
Although continuity was the main point of emphasis over the offseason and the early stages of the 2019-20 campaign, the two new additions to the rotation (Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr.) have both enjoyed more playing time over the past quarter of the season due to injuries and their on-court impact.
The Nuggets continue to have a lot of quality depth on their bench, which has forced head coach Michael Malone to make some tough decisions on a nightly basis. But at 29-12 with a top-10 offense and defense (per Cleaning the Glass), the Nuggets have managed those difficulties well in the first half of the season.
Will Barton III took time to speak with Nuggets.com about the first half of the season, how the team’s new additions have fit in and keys to the remaining half of the year. With averages of 15.1 points, career-best 6.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, the veteran wing has provided a steady presence for Denver this season. His answers are included below.
How would you assess the team’s play in the first half of the season?
I think it’s been good. We’ve been a little inconsistent, but we can’t really complain when we’re sitting near the top of a tough Western Conference.
On a personal level, how would you assess your play in the first half?
I think I’ve been decent. I think I’ve been competing. I’m just trying to do anything to help us win, but I think I can be much better (in the second half).
In the first quarter of the season, the team was near the top defensively but struggled offensively. In the second quarter it has kind of reversed. What is the key to maintain a high-level of play on both ends?
We just have to try and find the right balance between the two. Like you said, when we’re not scoring our defense seems to be at such a high level, but when we’re scoring, our defense kind of lacks. We need to figure out how we can do both (score and defend) on a consistent basis if we want to be the team that we want to be.
You’ve been here for a couple years as the core has mostly stayed the same. But how do you feel the new additions have fit in so far?
I think they’ve fit in perfectly. They’re both long, athletic wings that can score. Jerami is such a versatile defender, while Michael just has so much potential. They fit in great with us.