Jamal Murray hasn’t played meaningful NBA minutes until the Nuggets suit up for their first preseason game. The team lost to the division rival Oklahoma City Thunder 112-101. However, the loss is really the least of Denver’s worries. If anything, the Nuggets should feel hopeful for the upcoming season after Jamal Murray officially returned to form. The main headline going into this first preseason game wasn’t that the Nuggets couldn’t compete for a title this season. It was about whether they could stay healthy enough to compete for a championship. It’s safe to say that Denver fans should feel hopeful after the basketball world saw a healthy Jamal Murray from a small sample size.
Jamal Murray will shine at some point in the first game back.
Jamal Murray: Importance to the Denver Nuggets
Any avid Nuggets fan will tell you how important Murray is to this team’s success. While Nikola Jokic is the cornerstone of the franchise, Jamal Murray is the team’s second best player. He’s also important to Denver’s fluid offense. Remember, the Nuggets are returning a franchise All-Star with historic playoff numbers in the 2020 season. The same man averaged 31.6 points, 5.6 total rebounds and 6.3 assists per game during the said regular season campaign. Not to mention, Murray shot 53.3 percent from beyond the arc along with a 55.0 percent field goal percentage in those playoffs.
A healthy Michael Porter Jr. back will help the Nuggets’ chances and allow Jamal to have more room to operate now that opposing defenses can’t key him without Jokic or Porter Jr. getting open. Don’t forget, before Murray’s ACL injury, the Nuggets had one of the best net ratings in the league after acquiring Aaron Gordon. Many were saying the team was poised to make a deep playoff run until that fateful April night. Now that the Nuggets have their second-best player back, this could be the year the Western Conference gets a new top dog.
Jamal’s performance in the first preliminary game
Jamaal Murray, along with several other players, had to shake off the rust when he struggled a bit in the first quarter. After all, the Kentucky product hasn’t played in an actual NBA game in more than 500 days. However, the second quarter is when Nuggets fans get what they like to call the “Murray Flurry.” Jamal found a wide-open three-pointer in the corner at one point, giving him his first basket in an NBA game in more than a year.
That was the turning point as Murray regained his confidence as the second quarter wore on. He finally had a good game shooting in the paint and even hit a step-back three. However, the glacier at the top was a scream at the unbalanced shot. One that kissed the glass as the Nuggets entered halftime. For the night, Jamal finished with 4 of 10 points on four-for-seven from the field, a plus/minus four in the box, and two-for-three from downtown. Jamaal Murray was rested this preseason against the Oklahoma City Thunder, with his return questionable.