Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
The Nuggets backup point guard has been outstanding in his role yet again.
As part of Denver Stiffs’ transition from Denver Nuggets postseason coverage to offseason coverage, staff members will be conducting End of Season Reviews for all 17 players on the roster. There will continue to be news, NBA draft, free agency, and trade articles, but over the next three weeks, an accompanying End of Season review (or two) will also post every week day.
Today’s review: Monte Morris.
The Nuggets backup point guard had another reliable season, continuing to provide a steady hand off the bench. The Flint, Michigan product continues to be a shining example of how to guide a second unit, shooting the ball well, scoring when necessary, and being a leader for his teammates to rally behind.
There is a saying that the best ability is availability, and Morris was outstanding in that category this season. He was available for every single game, both regular season, bubble, and playoff for the team. While he may have had to learn how to play with a few more aches and pains, he makes himself available every single night, is ready to go whenever the coaches need him, and does exactly what is needed to help the team get the win.
Morris has been an outstanding Denver Nugget, and has earned the respect of players, coaches, front office personnel, and fans across the nation. He seems like a really interesting person, and his teammates seem to love having him around them all the time. What’s not to love about Monte?
Morris showed up to camp with a bit more extra muscle on, getting a little bit stronger to help him hold up for the full season and another postseason trip. He played off the bench, as is customary, and it took him a few games to get his feet underneath him. He broke the double-digit point seal in a win against Orlando, and followed that up with an 11 point, 8 assist game at home against Miami. He would continue to come in off the bench for the remainder of 2019.
Once January came around, and the Nuggets other guards — Gary Harris and Jamal Murray — started missing games, the coaching staff decided to put him in the starting lineup. He played a season high 41 minutes in the “Magnificent Seven” win over the Utah Jazz, helping the Nuggets pick up one of their most memorable wins of the season. Morris got the start in their next game too, a win against the Milwaukee Bucks, and was the only starter to attempt and make a free throw in that game.
When the bubble rolled around, Morris arrived late due to a reported positive case of Covid-19. By the time the games started counting for seeding, he was there in Orlando and able to start contributing again.
Morris was inserted into the starting lineup in Game Four against the Utah Jazz, giving the starting unit a chance to help alleviate ballhandling responsibilities for Jamal Murray. That helped Murray turn in one of the greatest scoring runs in NBA history, and the Nuggets were able to rally from a 3-1 deficit in part to Morris’ play. He didn’t start any games against the Clippers, but his play in Game Five and Game Six were key to their ability to win the game. He was at a real disadvantage in terms of size against the Lakers, and while he had some good games scoring to close out the series, it wasn’t a good series for any of the Nuggets.
Season Grade: B+
Is Monte Morris the best backup point guard in the NBA? I can’t think of a player that has played as well on his contract and in his role as Morris has. There aren’t any reports of him being unhappy in Denver, he doesn’t turn the ball over, and he’s always been healthy. He’s just been a great asset to the team.
Check out this game he had against the Pistons. You know he was going to play well in Michigan!
What’s Next for Monte Morris?
Next year is the final year of his contract, and that brings up a tough question for the Nuggets. Morris has been so great for Denver, but his contract has been an incredible bargain for them. As a second round pick, Morris is one of the lowest-paid players on the team. He absolutely will be deserving of a much larger contract, and it seems unlikely that Denver will be able to provide that.
Expect to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors by people outside Denver, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Tim Connelly just took a position of “we’re keeping him here as long as we can.” With Jamal Murray on the roster, Morris won’t be a starting point guard for Denver barring injury. The Nuggets are going to have to go elsewhere to replace him after this season.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy every single moment us Nuggets fans get with him, and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.