Jamal Murray is clearly the second best player on the Denver Nuggets and has proven to be one of the best playoff risers in NBA history. During the Denver Nuggets win over the Chicago Bulls this past Saturday, Murray injured his hamstring and didn’t return to the game. Unfortunately for Murray, this is an injury that will sideline him for a month. In that span, Murray will miss the rest of group play for the In-Season Tournament and possibly more.
Murray was off to a slow start scoring-wise, but he continued to show his improved playmaking abilities throughout the beginning of the season. Unfortunately for Murray, this injury will likely mean he will go yet another season without becoming an All-Star.
Much like how the Nuggets handled Murray’s torn ACL, it seems very apparent that they are going to be very cautious. They will take it slow until Murray is 100% healthy. The Nuggets are off to a blazing 8-1 start. Nikola Jokic and his consistent dominance will allow Murray to take his time returning to the court.
Why is it not a bad thing for Murray to miss time?
It’s never ideal to be missing a top player from your team, but the Nuggets could benefit from it. The Nuggets have a core that has played together for multiple years now. The Nuggets’ chemistry is unmatched across the association, especially between Jokic and Murray. The team and staff knows that chemistry isn’t going anywhere. We all saw it reignite as soon as Murray came back from his ACL tear last season.
Murray missing time gives Jokic a chance to play on the court more with other players, including Reggie Jackson. Jackson signed with the Nuggets during the buyout market last season, and signed a one-year contract this offseason. Jackson played very sparingly during his time with the Nuggets last season and rarely shared the court with Jokic. He wasn’t give many opportunities to mesh with the team, which limited his playing time.
Jackson is in a prime situation to solidify his backup minutes for the rest of the season. He got off to a great start by finishing the win over the Bulls with 16 points. He continued his good play adding 20 points and 6 assists in a narrow win over the Golden State Warriors.
Jamal Murray’s absence also means more minutes for some of the younger players fighting for minutes. Rookies Collin Gillespie and Jalen Pickett could get some chances to run the offense in the coming weeks. Gillespie has seen some minutes the past few games and showed some promise on the offensive end in the Nuggets’ victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Murray’s injury also means key players will have to step up further. Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. have also have a chance to take his absence and build their case for potential All-Star appearances. With Porter Jr. another removed from his third back surgery, this time with Murray away could give him the opportunity to take another leap and show why he was the number 1 recruit in his class coming out of high school. Porter has improved his handle and self-creation over the offseason and now is his chance for him to show his improvement.