For Will Barton, it was a simple play.
For Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, it was an eye-opener.
It happened during Barton's first game with the Nuggets, on Sunday, at Oklahoma City.
"It was the first time that somebody had actually out-run the defense for us in a while," Shaw said. "He got a breakaway dunk where he got behind the defense. That was refreshing to see."
Barton intends on doing more of that.
"I just go out there and compete," he said. "I play my heart out. I love the game. I'm one of them guys who would play the game for free. So I go out there, good athlete, I get up and down the floor, play in transition and just get after it. Just a lot of heart and hustle and go out there and see what happens."
The Nuggets need all of those things.
And the 24-year-old Barton, a shooting guard, needs the Nuggets.
The Baltimore native, whom the Nuggets acquired in the Arron Afflalo deal at the NBA's trade deadline last week, is looking for his big break after languishing on Portland's bench this season. This is his biggest and best opportunity to show he belongs in the NBA. While some players balk at 20 minutes of action, Barton cherishes it.
"They brought me over here, they wanted me," Barton said. "I'm getting my chance to put together some minutes and try to put together some complete games. In Portland I rarely played and I never knew when I was going to play. It was spot minutes. Now, I'm playing sometimes 20 minutes. So I'm getting to prove what I can do on the court."
He's off to a good start, having scored a season-high 15 points in his second game with the Nuggets Monday night against Brooklyn. Shaw said the 6-foot-6, 175-pound Barton reminds him of former Nuggets swingman Corey Brewer.
"That athleticism," Shaw said. "That ability to be able to run the floor. Albeit, I wasn't here when Corey Brewer was here, I coached against teams that he's played on; and just a guy that can get up and down the floor, fairly athletic, good defensively. Just brings that level of activity and I like that."
And with a rail-thin frame and headband, he does evoke the memory of Brewer darting around, outrunning the defense, looking to dunk everything.
Barton, in his third season, played his college ball at Memphis. He was drafted 40th overall by Portland in 2012. That draft position was a shock to a player who was highly-touted coming out of high school, then put up college numbers that compared favorably to other wing players in his draft class such as Bradley Beal, Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers.
"I was kind of heartbroken with that," Barton said. "Then trying to prove in training camp that I belonged on the team. Trying to fight to get in the rotation and being in and out of that. So, it's definitely been tough, especially when you know how hard you work and that you're talented.
"Everybody is trying to tell you to keep your head up because you're not seeing results that you want to see. It's definitely hard. But if you believe in yourself you've just got to hang in there and keep working hard and stay as positive as possible. So that's what I'm always continuing to do."
Christopher Dempsey | The Denver Post | February 24, 2015