Jamal Murray Looked Like His Old Self And Hit His First Game Winner Of The Year, And That's VERY Big News For The Nuggets
It's been a long last few years for Jamal Murray, the Nuggets, and their fans. Tearing his ACL right before the playoffs in 2020-21, missing all of last year including the playoffs, it's been a long road back for one of the franchise pillars. Now finally healthy, as you can imagine Murray has started off relatively slowly by his standards, but that's sort of what happens when a guy is coming back from an ACL. You need around 20-25 games to not just get back physically, but mentally as well. I would argue the mental hurdle these guys face when coming back from major injuries is the hardest part of coming back. It takes some time for them to trust their body and get back to being an aggressive player.
So the fact that Murray is only putting up 17.8/3.7/5.1 on 42/35% isn't too much of a concern for me. His efficiency will come back up to around his career averages (44/36%) as the season goes on and he feels more and more like his old self. The bigger story is that if the Nuggets are going to reach their potential and contend in the West, having Jamal Murray back is an extremely important piece of the puzzle. We just saw what things look like when Jokic has to do everything himself. The Nuggets are still good, but nowhere close to how good they could be.
That's why what happened last night in Portland is a pretty big deal in my opinion. For starters, it was a division game and division H2H matchups are always important, no matter when they happen during the year. Dame was back and was doing Dame things to the tune of 40/12 including some HUGE shots down the stretch
When Dame is hitting 40 footers and doing the Dame Time celebration, you're usually cooked. The Blazers were actually in control of this game pretty much the whole way through up until the 4th quarter. Unfortunately for them, Jamal Murray woke up.
14 points in 12 minutes in the 4th, Murray for maybe the first time all year looked like the Jamal Murray we remembered. He went point for point vs Dame (14 points) in the frame, and when it came time for the biggest shot of the night, guess who delivered
What a shot, what a moment.
Call me soft if you want, but as someone who loves both game winners and a great story, I couldn't be happier for Murray and Nuggets fans. Sure that's a tough loss for the Blazers and their defense is back to being kind of shitty again, but they'll be fine as long as Dame exists. This is more about Murray and what that moment had to feel like for a guy who has been through hell these last few years. Just listen to Michael Malone talk about it
it gives you a great perspective into the mindset of someone who is coming back from this major injury and has doubts about his game. That's why this game winner is so cool to me. It probably served as a great reminder that you know what? Jamal Murray is one of the best guards in this league when he's healthy. He is a key piece to this Nuggets organization and their plan moving forward. It's the same feeling I had watching Kawhi hit his game winner the other night. It's just awesome for the league when the best players are back and they're doing best player shit.
For the Nuggets, remember MPJ was out as well with a left heel strain, they sit at 5 games over .500 in the 4 spot, just 1.5 games out of the top seed in the West. Between NO/PHX/MEM/DEN, nobody has really separated themselves, mostly due to injuries. Everyone of those teams has had to deal with main guys missing legit chunks of time, and given how tight everything should be all year, making sure you find a way to land in the top 4 so you get homecourt in the playoffs is going to be pretty important. If Jamal Murray is going to look and play like the Jamal Murray we know, well that's a huge deal for the Nuggets and what their ceiling could potentially be.
If you're someone who maybe needs a reminder of what that version of Murray looks like, I'd be happy to show you
Here's to hoping he stays healthy the rest of the way because when he is, the man is electric and the Nuggets are fun as shit to watch.