The Denver Nuggets have so many talented guys on their roster. Despite Shaquille O’Neal’s claim last night that the Nuggets are not a “deep” team - one of the most off-base claims any professional analyst has made about the team this season - the Nuggets run 12 deep with players who can give 20 or more solid minutes on any given night. When fully healthy, their starting lineup alone boasts five players who could (and have) led the team in scoring and/or assisting on any given night.
And yet, on nights like last night, it becomes clear that two players matter more than the rest. Nikola Jokic has long established himself as the team’s best player. He’s the one guy who Denver needs every single night and, through 36 games so far this season, he’s delivered. But Jamal Murray is quickly inching closer and closer to becoming the team’s second most important player. Forget everyone else for a minute...when Jokic and Murray are both on, the Denver Nuggets don’t lose.
Last night, Murray was only on his A game for 22 minutes in the 2nd half and that was enough to beat a playoff-caliber team in the Sacramento Kings in their building. Murray and Jokic looked like an unstoppable force in the 2nd half of last night’s game and there just wasn’t anything anybody on the Kings could do about it. There isn’t much anybody on any team can do about it when Murray is hitting step-back threes and Jokic is throwing give-and-go passes.
More than any game this season, last night’s win felt like a glimpse of the future. Murray and Jokic formed an unstoppable duo and, basking in the afterglow of such a fun win, Nuggets fans can and should take a moment to think about how much more consistently those two will reach this level (and beyond) in the coming games, weeks, months, and years.