Harrison Wind: Can Jamal Murray rise to the occasion?
I'd have to think that for an ultra-competitor like Murray, his disappointing 4 of 18 shooting performance in the Nuggets' Game 7 loss to the Trail Blazers last May still stings. Murray had some strong moments in his first playoff appearance last season, like when he scored 21 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2 versus the Spurs to help captain a Nuggets come-from-behind victory that saved Denver's season, and when he tallied a game-high 34 points to lead the Nuggets to a vital Game 4 win in Portland a round later. But like many of his teammates, Murray came up short in Game 7.
He can redeem himself in the playoffs this year...if there is a postseason in the coming months...and also rewrite the script on a good but not great regular season. Murray's individual stat line looks almost identical to last year's, but he's raised his True and Effective Field Goal Percentages. He's upped his points per possession in the pick-and-roll slightly and the eye test says that Murray is making reads and passes in the half-court that he wasn't last season. His defense fell off after a strong start and Murray's 3-point percentage dropped for a second-consecutive season to just 34.5%.
For those who had high expectations for Murray's this year he probably didn't fully meet them, but a strong playoff run heading into next season when his max contract kicks in can alter the entire perception of his 2019-20 campaign.