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Will Barton: The glue that keeps Denver Nuggets together

REAL SPORTS SCENE - Anthony Suntay - The Philippine Star
Will Barton: The glue that keeps Denver Nuggets together
Will Barton ranked No. 5 in ESPN’s plus-minus ranking behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard.

To build a successful basketball team, you don’t just need stars, you need leaders. Will Barton is a veteran leader of the Denver Nuggets and he has championship aspirations. Once the young gun, he now is now surrounded by franchise player Nikola Jokic and rising star Jamal Murray, and is tasked to be the glue that keeps the team together.

The 40th pick in the 2012 draft by Portland, he transferred to Denver after three years with the Trail Blazers as part of their building block for the future.

The Philippine Star: You’re ranked No. 5 in ESPN’s plus-minus ranking behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. Is that a validation for you on your stellar play?

Will Barton: I really don‘t try to pay attention too much to that. It‘s pretty cool to see my name up there with some of the best players in the NBA. But my role on my team is to go out there and compete at a high level and just try to make one play for our team. That‘s the whole thing that we focus on. I can‘t get all caught up in those numbers and things. I don‘t need to have the same role on my team as those players. It‘s pretty cool to be up there with them, but I‘ve just got to keep trying to play good basketball.

The team’s defense and your defense have picked up this season. Is this really the plan of action for this year?

Well, it’s definitely something that I came to the team trying to focus on — being a better defender, being a better team defender. Like I say, we have the athleticism for winning a championship, but to do that we’ve got to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. I’m out there on the court, so I have to do my part. It really doesn’t take away from our offense. If you look at the numbers, I’m still pretty much averaging what I’ve averaged basically during my career. It actually gets me going on offense. It gives me more energy; it’s making me play harder; it’s making me be more into the game.

What were your thoughts and expectation on the competition this year?

We knew coming into this season it was going to be more open, more spread out with the Warriors kind of bugging out with KD (Kevin Durant) departing and AD (Anthony Davis) going to the Lakers, the moves that could be made with Kawhi and Paul George, (Kristaps) Porzingis going to Dallas with Luka. We knew there would be more parity and more teams competing and it would make the West more competitive. We knew what we were going up against and we knew we had to be ready, and I feel like so far we’re doing a good job of that.

You are now the veteran leader of your team…

My role has definitely grown. It’s kind of funny to see when I first came up here, I was just one of the young guys, and now being one of the oldest ones on the team, having so much experience on the team, it’s something I embrace, though. The young guys, they remind me of myself coming in —just trying to find their role, their place in the league, establish themselves. And you just try to talk to them about how to be professionals and how to go about everything the right way and try to give advice on how not to make some of the mistakes you made, try to lead them in the right direction.

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Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @anthonysuntay.


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