The 2018-2019 season could not have gotten off to a better start for the Denver Nuggets. Head coach Michael Malone’s team raced out to a 9-1 start following a victory over Boston on November 5. The Nuggets’ play on both sides of the ball was exceptional as the offense scored at least 100 points and the defense held opponents under 100 through the first three games in 2018. In fact, the Nuggets have eclipsed the 100-point mark in all but two games this season. Despite dropping four in a row before a victory against Atlanta on November 15, the Nuggets find themselves third in the West and only 1.5 games out of first. One of the key components of Denver’s early success has been the play of 21-year-old point guard Jamal Murray.
Jamal Murray is currently in his third season with the Denver Nuggets. The former Kentucky Wildcat was drafted seventh overall in 2016. During his short stint at Kentucky, Murray averaged 20 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from three-point range. His 20 points per game are the most by any Kentucky freshman in school history and the most scored by a player during head coach John Calipari’s tenure. Following his freshman year, he was named to the All-SEC First Team, a third-team All-American, and the SEC All-Freshman Team. After being selected by Denver in the 2016 NBA draft, Murray made his debut with the Nuggets on October 3, 2016 in a preseason game against Toronto. He scored nine points in 17 minutes en route to a 108-106 preseason win for Denver. Murray saw his first regular season action in the Nuggets’ first regular season game against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 26, 2016. In a 107-102 Denver win, he played 13 minutes and recorded his first NBA point on a free throw.
Coming off of a season in which he played in all but one game, Jamal Murray is looking to help fuel a young, but talented Nuggets lineup. Coach Malone and the Nuggets believe they have all the pieces in place to be legitimate competitors in the West. If the first 10 games were any indication, Denver has a team of players who will keep fighting until the final whistle. In particular, Murray has a chance to be one of the top point guards in the league in the coming years. He currently leads all Nuggets in scoring with 17.5 points per game and is tied for second in assists per game with 3.9. In the young season, Murray already has set a new career-high with 48 points in a 115-107 win over Boston on November 5. Murray went 19-30 to go along with a perfect 5-5 from the line. The key for Murray as he grows as an NBA player is becoming more consistent. Following his 48-point outburst, he only managed 15 points on 6-21 from the field in a 89-87 loss to Memphis on November 7. In fact, he hasn’t eclipsed the 20-point mark since the game against Boston. If he wants to develop into a premiere player in the league, he needs to work on stringing together consistent performances.
The Denver Nuggets are currently in a bit of a tailspin, but with a valuable commodity such as Jamal Murray, there is reason to believe that they will return to their winning ways. As he is still one of the youngest players on Denver’s roster, there will certainly be more growing pains along the way this season. However, the ways in which Murray responds following a rough game will be key in his development. As a point guard, he has the tools that will allow him to succeed at the next level. It comes down to honing them and developing into an all-around player. If Murray can flesh out his game, the Nuggets will put the league on notice as they will no longer be an easy win for opponents. With power forward Paul Millsap as the only player on the roster who’s over 30, these Nuggets have the potential to be a dangerous team in the West this season and for seasons to come. There is reason to believe that the Nuggets aren’t anywhere close to playing to their potential. As the season progresses, this team could be extremely dangerous as the calendar flips to 2019.