In an astonishing turn of events, the Denver Nuggets selected Jamal Murray, a 19-year-old guard from Canada, with the 7th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
The former Kentucky Wildcat declared for the draft after one season at Kentucky, where he showed off an ability to score the basketball in a variety of ways for Big Blue.
He is an exciting prospect, and should help the Nuggets take the next step towards becoming contenders in the league. Here's five things to know about one of the newest Denver Nuggets.
Murray and Mudiay are a dynamic duo
Every year, Nike hosts a hoops summit, inviting players from the United States and international players to come to Portland to work with coaches and compete against each other. In 2014, it was the first time that Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay were able to play together, as the two teamed up together on the international squad.
The US squad won that matchup, with the help of players like Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre and Tyus Jones. But the international squad's two leading scorers were ... drumroll .... Mudiay and Jamal Murray. Murray had 10 points, but showed off his ballhandling, athleticism, and outside shooting at the summit.
Murray would return the next year, and scorched the competition for 30 points in the scrimmage, but apparently Tim Connelly didn't forget how nice it was to watch those two players team up in the backcourt.
He has a great signature celebration
It's a move that Wes Matthews Jr. uses, but the bow and arrow celebration is awesome. After a made 3-pointer, Murray will pull an arrow from the imaginary quiver on his back, draw and fire at the bench. The Nuggets bench had some great chemistry this season, frequently celebrating with their on-court teammates in support from the sidelines, and with a sharpshooter with a flair for performance on the roster, I expect many great moments at games. Go to games at the Pepsi Center or on the road to watch Murray and his teammates have fun together on the court - it'll be worth the price of admission.
Jamal Murray can fly
No, I'm serious, I think he has figured out how to defy gravity and soar through the air like a bird.
Yup, pretty sure that qualifies as flight.
He cares about winning - a lot
Kentucky's run in the NCAA tournament ended quickly, with an upset loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on the first weekend. Sure, Kentucky beat Stony Brook, and a 4/5 upset isn't much of an upset, but Kentucky was a team that had serious hopes in the tournament, and they knew they could do more than they accomplished.
Murray missed eight of nine 3-point attempts in the game, and afterwards, was emotional when discussing how he felt he did in the game. It's nice to see a player that cares so much about the game, and was so invested in success that he was overcome by defeat. Hopefully Murray puts in the work and preparation so that the Nuggets don't have to experience losing very often with him on the roster.
Meditation and kung fun help him prepare for games
Murray's father, Roger, introduced his son to kung fu and meditation when he was a small child. Now it's a part of his routine, and he meditates before and after games.
"The kung fu (built) mental toughness and then, the kung fu and meditation, we went over different scenarios and different situations," Jamal said. "That led to me being more relaxed in the game and seeing things slower.
"Now I have a resting heartbeat of 34 beats per minute, so it just kind of slowed my body down and made me think clearer."
34 beats per minute is insane. Take your pulse - odds are you're above 60. Murray, even after games, can get his heart rate down to half that.
For a player that will have high expectations on him as early as his first game, the ability to withdraw from the world, center himself, and mentally digest everything around him should help separate him from his peers.
Murray shoots fire arrows
If you're going to shoot arrows after made 3-pointers, you had better be knocking them down at a consistent rate. He didn't accidentally shoot over 50 percent this season on his way to 20 points per game for Kentucky.
It doesn't matter if a defender has a hand in his face, is stuck on a screen, or got shook on a crossover - Murray is going to be able to get off a 3-pointer and bury it. Arrows.
While he is capable of handling the ball, Kentucky played him off-ball and let Tyler Ulis feed him passes for lots of points. While he's not Eric Bledsoe, Murray showed an ability to attack closeouts, get into the paint, and finish above the rim. Defenders have to respect his ability to pull up and score at any moment, so he's able to get cleaner looks at the rim.
He's going to score so many points. SO MANY POINTS.