Denver Nuggets, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Monte Morris is wildly underpaid

The Denver Nuggets have a lot of good players, but Monte Morris might be the best value on the entire team.

There are a lot of players across the NBA who simply do not get credit for their importance. Monte Morris of the Denver Nuggets has been one of those guys this season. Morris is a 2017 second-round pick who has become one of the best passing point guards in the league this season.

According to Cleaning the Glass, no point guard turns the ball over on fewer of their possessions than Morris, who is averaging just 0.7 turnovers to 4.1 assists per game this season. He’s also adding 10.1 points of his own each night, while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from 3-point territory.

Denver’s net rating of plus 8.5 points per 100 possessions with Morris on the floor is the highest among any regular rotation player on the Nuggets. This team functions at a very high level with Morris on the floor, even though his raw statistics aren’t all that impressive, aside from the low turnovers.

What really puts Morris’ value over the top is how little he costs Denver. As a second-round pick, the Nuggets have team control over Morris for this season and two more, at a cap number that never rises above $1.7 million. Considering that the salary cap is well over $100 million now, using such a small percentage on such an important piece opens up a lot of options for the Nuggets.

If Denver chooses to decline a team option on Paul Millsap’s deal and to part ways with Trey Lyles, the Nuggets could open up a quick $15 million in space this summer. Morris being so good means Will Barton, another ball-handling guard, might not be necessary at $12 million per season anymore. If the Nuggets were to move him as well, they’d be able to open up room to add virtually anybody this summer.

Make no mistake, what Monte Morris is doing for the Nuggets on the floor this season is valuable in itself. But having team control of such an underpriced asset for two more years after this one could lead to Denver having more flexibility than anticipated, which is never a bad thing.

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