For the Denver Nuggets second-year point guard Monte Morris, Wednesday’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers was a little more special than it was for most players.

“I dreamt about it every night, woke up every morning to make the dream a reality, and tomorrow’s just going to be a special day for me,” Morris told Mile High Sports after Tuesdays practice.

It certainly was an memorable day for Morris, who played 16 minutes while and posted seven points, four assists, and two rebounds. After playing in just 25 minutes all last season, Morris nearly totaled that number in the Nuggets season opener as he continues to shoulder more responsibility with Isaiah Thomas still recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Even though Thomas is out because of injury, Morris’ role as the Nuggets backup point wasn’t just given to him — it was earned. After playing in summer league and staying in Denver most of the offseason to train, Morris has worked his way into the Nuggets rotation after playing in just three games during his rookie season.

“Every time we give Monte a challenge — whether it be going out to Vegas and playing summer league, whether it be in our own gym throughout September or into training camp and five preseason games — Monte not only accepts the challenge, (but) he embraces it and he runs with it.” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said in an interview with Altitude Sports Radio. “Monte has proven to be very trustworthy, he runs this team, he does not make mistakes, and he’s really competing on the defensive end of the floor. So, Monte deserves the opportunity that he’s going to be given.”

As coach Malone mentioned, one of the things Morris has worked on is his defense. On media day, Morris said he wants to be a “pest” on that end of the floor this season.

“I think it was good in the preseason, but starting tomorrow I’m going to turn it up another notch for sure,” Morris said on his defensive expectations.

Morris certainly showcased strong defensive effort during the preseason and it is something that carried over into the regular season as he came away with one steal in the Nuggets victory over the Clippers. If Morris is able to continue and affect the game defensively, it is only going to help the Nuggets transition offense, which is something the second unit excelled in during the season opener.

With Morris leading the charge, the Nuggets showcased a dynamic bench unit throughout training camp and five preseason games. That chemistry was on full display during the Clippers game Wednesday night, and its something Morris knows has to continue when the Nuggets starters are off the floor.

“Our second unit is big. If we can come out and outscore people and get stops it’ll definitely help make an edge in leverage for the starters,” Morris said.

The Nuggets second unit showcased that ability to create stops and score effectively in the season opener with Morris at the forefront of that success. During the second quarter, there were two instances when the Nuggets created steals defensively and turned it into two easy layups, with Morris assisting on both. Morris’ passing ability has been on full display so far this season, and its something he’s worked on dating back to his time in college at Iowa State.

“I just know if I can keep the ball and not turn it over we can definitely get more possessions. Coach Malone has been harping on turnovers and trying to cut them down.” Morris said when asked about making his teammates better while still taking care of the basketball.

After breaking the NCAA record in assist-to-turnover ratio during his senior season at Iowa State, Morris showcased an ability to not only get his teammates involved, but take care of the basketball in the process. During his four-year college career, Morris flashed a high basketball IQ, which led him to being the 51st pick by the Nuggets in last years draft.

“His assist-to-turnover (success) just comes from understanding and feel for the game and his high I.Q. Great passer, great team guy,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm in an interview with USA Today.

Morris’ feel for the game was on full display during the preseason as he led the team in assists with 23, while committing just seven turnovers. That carried over into the regular season as Morris dished out four assists in the Nuggets opener, while committing zero turnovers.

Morris isn’t just a passer though, as he’s also worked on his jump shot in order to add another dimension to his game. Even though he shot just 3-9 in the Nuggets opener, his nine shots were already three more than he took all last season. If Morris continues to shot the ball with confidence, it’ll only make him harder to defend on that end of the floor.

If Morris is able to continue and develop as a player, the Nuggets may have the ideal backup point guard in Morris, who they gave a three-year contract extension to this offseason. With the poise and confidence Morris plays with offensively, it gives Denver a back up point guard who can not only be trusted, but effectively run the second unit night in and night out. For Morris, he knows he isn’t going to shock people with his box scores, but what he does hope is to continue and have a positive effect on the Nuggets this season.

“Just playing my game,” Morris explained. “I’m not going to ‘ooo and awe’, you know what I’m saying? I’m going to play the game the right way, make a right pass, and just play simple. Make plays – try to make open shots – doing that gives me the leverage to go out and take care of the basketball like I do.”