Jamal Murray is Setting the NBA on Fire in 2018

Zack Geogheganover 3 years


Aritcle written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan


[caption id="attachment_236327" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Jamal Murray has taken over in 2018. (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)[/caption] During his time at Kentucky, Jamal Murray could turn into a one-man wrecking crew with the snap of a finger. He was a ticking time bomb ready to explode at any given time. If he wanted to take over a game, there wasn't anything the opposition could do to stop him. His flawless jump shot and uncanny ability to contort his body like an Olympic gymnast to fire up - and hit - a shot that had absolutely no business whatsoever of going in, is what made him a legend during his one season in Lexington. Despite not having a true position on the court (He isn't a prototypical point guard and not big enough to be a shooting guard), Murray came into the NBA with one proven identity. He gets buckets. Murray was the seventh overall pick by the Denver Nuggets in the 2016 draft, being placed next to Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay with the organization hoping that at least two of the three would turn into their backcourt of the future. Fast forward just a year and a half later and the Nuggets already have their answer. Harris is their two-guard, who can play both sides of the ball and make monumental plays such as this one. While Murray is their point guard in the body of a combo-guard. Murray's natural position isn't point guard - and unless Emmanuel Mudiay can play consistent and turnover-free basketball, it will be Murray's job to run the team for the foreseeable future. However, Murray has earned his spot. He's currently one of the most valuable assets in the entire NBA in terms of production, age, and contract. He's a coveted piece that will surely garner some trade discussions as the Nuggets plan for the future. 23-year old Gary Harris might be a better overall player than Murray as of right now, but he sure isn't more valuable. You don't find 20-year old scorers such as Murray too often (unless we're talking about Devin Booker) and when you do, they're someone you immediately build a future around. Here's a neat little stat to build the hype even more. Murray has had an excellent second season, refusing to fall subject to the infamous "sophomore slump". Instead of hitting a wall, Murray has hit his stride. His game on Thursday night was the culmination of his season thus far. Murray scored 33 points, his second-highest mark this season, to go along with three rebounds and five assists (with only one turnover) as the Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder thanks to a Gary Harris game-winner. It was a huge win for Denver, who is teetering on the edge of the playoffs, and while Harris' shot will receive some well-deserved credit, Murray was the real reason Denver had a chance to win that game. This season, Murray is averaging 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three, and 93.1 percent from the free throw line. All impressive improvements from his rookie season, but the first month of 2018 brought out an even deadlier - and somehow more efficient - Jamal Murray. Since the new year began, Murray is averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting (and this is where it gets exciting) 48.1 percent from the field, 44.2 (FORTY-FOUR POINT TWO) percent from three, and 95.1 (NINETY-FREAKING-FIVE POINT ONE) percent from the free throw line. Murray has been hotter than molten lava shooting out of a volcano directly into the sun. He's embarrassing defenders, scoring from anywhere he wants to on the court, and putting up 30-point games like he's, well, Devin Booker. (All of the videos above happened in the last month) Murray is a top-tier shooter, we already know this. His seven games of at least 30 points this season (three of which have come since Jan. 1) and advanced stats tell us everything. He shoots in the 90.4 percentile on spot-up jumpers and his 68.1 effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot opportunities is better than Paul George and teammate Gary Harris. But what we're seeing more and more from Murray is his ability to make plays for others. Playing with a seven-foot elite playmaker such as Nikola Jokic has apparently rubbed off on him. Not only is he dishing out dimes, he's a high-level rebounder for someone his size. In the ever-transforming NBA, where positions are becoming more and more meaningless, Murray has found his spot. He's not a point guard. He's not a shooting guard. He's impossible to guard, and it doesn't matter where he's at on the court. If the ball is in his hands, he is set out to score. And score, and score, and score some more. Murray is one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Not only can he drop 10 points in a matter of minutes, but he has fun while doing it. His signature "Blue-Arrow" celebration has followed him to Denver and he's been raining down shots all season. He's the first player to pound his fists in the air after a big bucket, even if he wasn't the one who hit it. He shows incredible heart and simply wants to win more than anything.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

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