Examining Will Barton's Breakout Season for the Denver Nuggets

Barton has impressed so far this year with Denver. Is he a Sixth Man of the Year candidate?

Shooting guard Will Barton was selected in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft out of the University of Memphis and was mostly a fringe-rotation player his first two and a half NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.

He averaged just 11 minutes per game in Portland and was traded to the Denver Nuggets 30 games into the 2014-15 season.

Now, in his fourth NBA season, Barton has taken advantage of his chance with the Nuggets. He’s appeared in all 31 of their games this year for 29.2 minutes per game and has really thrived as Denver’s sixth man, holding career highs in nearly every statistical category.

All of his per-36-minute numbers are career highs, as Barton is averaging 19.5 points and 7.4 rebounds, while shooting 46.2% from the field and 39.7% from behind the arc.

In fact, Barton’s three-point percentage sits just outside the top 20 in the NBA.

He’s also getting to the free throw line more often, averaging a career best 3.6 attempts per-36, and sinking 84.6% of his attempts.

Barton currently has a career best +6 Net Rating, with a 113 Offensive Rating and a 107 Defensive Rating. He’s also posted a 19.9 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), a 56.8% True Shooting Percentage, and .141 Win Shares per-48, which are all career highs.

According to our metrics, Barton has posted a 4.7 nERD this season, good for 16th among all guards and higher than some well-known names at the position such as Damian Lillard (3.4) and Eric Bledsoe (3.1). This means Barton would add roughly five wins to a league-average team over the course of a full season as a starter.

Barton has been playing great to start this year, yet it will be tough for him to capture the Sixth Man of the Year award.

He’ll certainly face stiff competition from Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lin, and others.

Nevertheless, Barton is in the midst of a breakout year and has lived up to his contract with his play so far this season.