• Pranav Singh

Jamal Murray’s Come Up: Where Did He Get This From?

One of the biggest stories of the 2020 NBA season has been Jamal Murray’s explosion in the Orlando Bubble. The 23-year-old was on a mission during the postseason, and the Blue Arrow helped his Denver Nuggets bounce back from consecutive 3-1 deficits. Murray’s standing among hoops fans has never been higher.

Murray missed four of the eight seeding games in Orlando and averaged a pedestrian 14.5 points per contest in that time. Everything changed in the postseason, though. In Game 1 against Utah, he showed up and dropped 36 on a scalding 65 percent from the field and 67 percent from three. 

This was only the tip of the iceberg for Jamal in the series. Murray went on to score 50, 42 and 50 points in games 4, 5, and 6 on 64 percent from the field. 

During the second-round against the Clippers, Murray cooled off but still managed a few ridiculous moments. Game 7 saw the rising star really come alive. With the Nuggets down ten points in the second quarter, Murray led the charge to close the gap before halftime. He didn’t let up, and Murray finished the game with 40 points and a big Game 7 win.

After signing a 5-year/$170 million extension last summer, Murray underperformed this season; he averaged 18.5 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. The playoffs were where he proved being worthy of every penny Denver paid. 

His playmaking and defense have really come alive, as was the case against the Clippers.

But it’s Murray’s scoring prowess that really makes him special. He can drive into the lane and finish with either hand, his floater game us almost unguardable, he is smooth from the mid-range, hitting Kobe-esque fadeaways, and he can make it rain from beyond the three-point arc.

Look at the tough, contested shots he was taking and making in the first round against the Jazz.

His offensive skills were on full display. The Denver Nuggets were a -10.2 on offense when Jamal was taking a break on the bench. 

This postseason, Murray was hitting big crunch-time shots. He had some massive three-point bombs down the stretch, while also setting up his teammates in the process. In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Murray notched at least 5 assists every game. His assist percentage leaped from 21% in last year’s playoffs to 30% this year.

The NBA playoffs are a great way for a star player to show the world what he’s made of. Murray’s run in the 2020 postseason feels a lot like a similar playoff spurt from another Western Conference guard who can get buckets whenever he wants.

Whether it was from 30 feet away or layups with three defenders in his face, Damian Lillard was simply unconscious in the 2019 postseason. And it’s fair to wonder if Dame’s cold-bloodedness inspired Murray. After all, it was Lillard, C.J McCollum and the Blazers that took out Murray’s Nuggets in seven games last postseason. Dame averaged 25 points, 5 boards and 6 assists. This was after punishing the Thunder in five games, punctuated by this moment that still gives Thunder fans nightmares.

Murray’s run in the 2020 postseason was its own sort of iconic. At the end of the day, no one but Jamal Murray could tell you what got into him these playoffs, but Nuggets fans are in for a treat for the next few years.