On February 19th, 2015 the Portland Trail Blazers traded away a 2016 first-round pick, Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, and Victor Claver to acquire Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee from the Denver Nuggets. Blazers fans may end up ruing the first-rounder more than any other asset, but of all the live bodies traded away, Barton currently causes the most remorse. Though his numbers in Portland were mediocre--10.8 points per 36 minutes, 3.0 points per game on 38% shooting from the field, 22% from the arc--the "People's Champ" had plenty of support due to his high-flying, devil-may-care approach to the game.
Barton's approach took wing in Denver where he found more playing time and a more permissive offense, both hallmarks of a team searching for identity. His shooting percentage skyrocketed to 44%; his three-point average rose to 28%. He posted a career-high 16.2 points per 36, 11.0 points per game. Barton has registered a half dozen 20-point games in his 3-year career. 3 of those came in the last 3 months. His advent was dramatic.
Barton's game hasn't changed much, nor has Portland's offense. He wouldn't have put up those numbers in a Trail Blazers uniform. But Portland's roster will be in flux this summer. Their future contains plenty of question marks. Offense in 2016 may bear little resemblance to the 2013-2015 vintages.
Here's the question of the day. If Portland's veteran players don't return because they sign elsewhere or because of health, would you consider bringing Barton back to Portland? He'd be a restricted free agent, meaning the Blazers would need to outbid Denver for his services. Paying that kind of money, they'd anticipate him starting alongside Damian Lillard or at the very least playing a strong 6th Man role. Could you see that backcourt working? Would it be worth it? Why or why not?
Have at it in the comment section. Could Will The Thrill ride in Portland again?
--Dave email@example.com / @DaveDeckard / @Blazersedge