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Jamal Murray's upside, skill set should interest Nuggets

Harrison Wind Avatar
June 2, 2016


Up until the NBA draft on June 23, the BSN Nuggets staff will review first-round prospects the Nuggets may target. We’ll look at their skill set, the role they will play in the league and how they could potentially fit in Denver.

Jamal Murray, G, Kentucky

If the Nuggets stand pat and end up picking seventh overall in the upcoming draft, selecting Kentucky’s Jamal Murray might be the best case scenario for Denver.

Murray checks a lot of boxes that the Nuggets are looking for in an addition to their roster either through the draft or free agency. He’s arguably the most talented guard prospect in the draft and might have the highest ceiling as well. I currently have Murray No. 5 on my most recent big board.


It’s easiest to start with Murray’s shot because, well, it’s textbook. Perfect, compact form, great elevation, balance, and sound mechanics that look the same on nearly every attempt. He rivals Buddy Hield as the best shooter in this draft and it’s scary to think how much his shot would improve if he had three more years to work on it, as Hield did. Murray averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game during his Freshman year at Kentucky. He shot 45.4 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from three.

Murray is lethal when spotting up off screens and pindowns and is able to get his shot off clean and quick; a necessary skill for a two-guard who’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-4.5. Murray shot the ball at a 56 percent clip coming off screens last year at Kentucky, per DraftExpress and is just as comfortable spotting up off the catch. What jumped out to me when watching film on Murray was how effortlessly he moves on the court. He’s able to navigate tightly around screens on offense and run his man off picks unlike most college freshman are able to at that age.

The 19-year-old is also a skilled finisher around the basket, despite not having incredible athleticism. He’s stronger than he looks at 200 pounds and takes contact well at the rim.

Murray played the one at times while at Kentucky, but the two is likely going to be his main position at the next level because of how well he moves off the ball and his ability in catch and shoot situations.

He’s capable leading the break and has great instincts but still needs to improve his handle to spend big minutes at the point. Besides his shooting, ball handling is Murray’s primary focus leading up to the draft.

“I gotta work on a lot of ball handling, two balls, one ball,” Murray told DraftExpress. “Just try and improve on that make sure my dribble is crisp showing that I can play the point guard position.”

Murray also mentioned that he wants to be a “complete guard,” meaning he can play both backcourt positions. Even though he may end up flourishing as a two, he wants to put the thought in general manager’s minds that he’s versatile enough to play both effectively.

Here, Murray goes for 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals against presumptive No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram and Duke.


On defense, Murray is a work in progress. He gives good effort and is able to stay with his man around screens but seems to lose touch when the offensive player attacks the rim or puts the ball on the floor. He often comes out of his stance when he’s guarding on the perimeter in one on one situations and he doesn’t have great lateral speed. Offensive players with quick first steps are frequently able to get by him on the perimeter when they look to penetrate.

Murray is definitely a guard who looks for his offense first in isolation situations or when coming off screens. He has decent vision, but doesn’t have a great first step and uses his strength, rather than quickness to get by defenders. He’s more of a straight line drive penetrator than savvy ball handler.

He didn’t post great steal numbers at Kentucky but has decent awareness on the defensive end. He can jump passing lanes and lead the break going the other way.

Potential fit in Denver

Murray is likely at the top of the Nuggets’ realistic draft board because of his strengths. His shooting should immediately help Denver from beyond the arc and his improved ball handling would allow Emmanuel Mudiay to play on the wing at times if the two shared the court. Denver could also bring Murray along slowly with Gary Harris cemented at the two to start next season.

Current Projection

The Kentucky product is currently projected to go as high as No. 3 and as low as No. 7 to Denver across various mock drafts. Denver might have to move up to get him, as I don’t see Murray, who has the highest ceiling out of the two guards in the draft, dropping past New Orleans at six and maybe even Minnesota at five.

Reminder: When in doubt, draft a Kentucky guard.




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