DENVER — Will Barton suffered a right leg/ankle injury at the conclusion of practice Monday just as Nuggets coach Michael Malone was giving his opening remark to an assembled group of reporters.
Barton was playing 1-on-1 after practice against teammates and player development coach John Beckett and landed awkwardly, yelled out in pain, and crumpled to the floor. Malone returned a few minutes later after checking on Barton on the far end of the Nuggets' practice court and said that he thinks it's an ankle injury. Barton was putting minimal weight on his right foot as he was helped off the floor.
The 26-year-old was an integral piece to the Nuggets rotation a year ago and tallied 13.7 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting from the field and 37.0 percent from three in 28.4 minutes per game last season. Barton started 19 of the 60 games he appeared in last year for the Nuggets and was expected to once again provide the bulk of Denver's scoring punch off the bench.
The Nuggets have not released an official diagnosis of Barton's injury but his status for Denver's regular-season opener in Utah Wednesday night could be in doubt.
If Barton misses any time, reserve shooting guard Malik Beasley could be inserted into Denver's rotation. Beasley played sparingly during his rookie year with the Nuggets and averaged 3.8 points across the 22 games he appeared in. A more likely scenario, however, is a bench unit where point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Jameer Nelson share the floor.
Malone remains mum on point guard
Michael Malone elected not to name his starting or backup point guard at Monday's practice but did dop a slight hint at the direction he's leaning.
"I'll give you a hint, our starting point guard's last name starts with a 'M' and ends with 'Y,'" Malone said.
The Nuggets' head coach remains coy but he's ruled out Nelson from the starting point guard competition. Jamal Murray and Mudiay continue to battle it out although all signs point to the Kentucky product eventually being named the starter.
Nelson could still be a candidate for Denver's backup spot.