With such a unique facilitator such as Nikola Jokic at the helm, one could argue the Denver Nuggets do not have much of a need for a traditional point guard. It seems Denver buys into that philosophy at least a little with all signs pointing to scoring threat but limited ballhandler Jamal Murray taking disappointing prospect Emmanuel Mudiay’s place in the starting lineup permanently. Besides Murray and Mudiay, Nuggets coach Mike Malone can also call upon veteran Jameer Nelson to play as a small guard.
However, Nelson’s age has reached the stage of his career where even getting the offense initiated may soon be a talent he cannot handle due to a rapid decline in athleticism. That is why the Nuggets did well to draft and sign one of the NCAA’s best floor generals in recent memory, Monte Morris, to a two-way contract as insurance.
On the two-way contract, Morris will always be a phone call away from inserting into the Nuggets roster for a substantial salary raise in case Nelson cannot provide as a backup. The Nuggets will likely not convert Morris’s contract into a standard NBA contract until, earliest, the 2018 offseason where Nelson and other expected starting guard Gary Harris become available to free agency and a decision on Mudiay’s team option must also be made. In the meantime, Morris will have to await until closer to the 2017-18 G League season to get assigned to a G League squad as the Nuggets will not have an affiliate available for the upcoming season.
For that prospective squad, Morris will hope to adjust to the athleticism upgrade as a rookie and use his immense savvy to manufacture scoring chances for not just his teammates, but himself. Morris maintained his famous great assist-to-turnover ratio during the Las Vegas Summer League as he doled out a 32.4% assist percentage with only a 9% turnover rate.
However, Morris’s Summer League performances also did little to quell questions about his ability to create and make good shots for himself as his jumpshot and finishing at the rim both struggled in the six games. Still, no one can doubt the Iowa State alum’s fantastic ball movement capabilities and Denver will be pleased to keep him in the holster for the foreseeable future.