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Consistency is no longer a question with Jamal Murray

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Jamal Murray is playing great basketball and might just be getting started.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of players have been key in the Nuggets early season success, but you could argue none have been more impactful than Jamal Murray. Not only has Murray put up solid numbers to start the year, but he has answered any question about his consistency.

Through 16 games, Murray is averaging career highs in points (18.8), assists (4.8), and rebounds per game (4.6). To put those stats into even more perspective, at this time last season, Murray was averaging 17.1 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. Small growth, but growth nonetheless.

The biggest concern with Murray’s start last season was his three-point percentage, which was at just 28.9 percent through 16 games. This year, Murray is shooting a highly effective 35.6 percent from three-point range, while attempting a career-high 5.4 threes per game.

Triples are not the only thing Murray is shooting more of as he is averaging 16.2 shots per game, also a career-high. The beauty of that number is Murray is making 7.1 of those shots per game, which is also — you guessed it — a career high.

After signing a max contract this offseason, Murray has answered the call by improving in every statistical category not just a little, but by a significant margin. Coming into the season, the biggest question was if Murray would be able to build upon his solid performance in the postseason, and so far, he has.

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Scoring has never been as issue for Murray, but where he has really made strides is as a passer. Murray only trails Nikola Jokic for the Nuggets lead in assists and there is a reason for that. The game has truly slowed down for Murray in his fourth NBA season, leading to more opportunities for his teammates.

The Nuggets victory over the 76ers is the Murray game that really stands out so far this season. It was arguably Murray’s best game of his career as he combined efficient scoring with a playmaking ability that was borderline unstoppable.

Murray’s stat line for the Philadelphia game was phenomenal as he scored 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field to go along with 11 assists and six rebounds.

Plays like the one about really showcase how Murray has grown. Murray could have easily took the contested layup at the rim, but instead he passed the ball and it led to an easy two points.

Growing as a passer is one aspect of Murray’s game that has improved, but where he really had to improve this year was defensively. Defense, defense, and more defense has been the Nuggets recipe for success to start the season, and Murray is at the forefront of that improvement. Murray is currently third on the Nuggets in defensive rating (99.0) and only trails Paul Millsap and Will Barton III.

The amount of effort and focus Murray is playing with defensively to start the year is staggering. Hustle plays don’t always show up in the stat sheet, but Murray is making them on a nightly basis and they often lead to Nuggets victories.

Murray is currently averaging a career-high 1.6 steals per game, which leads the team. With the Dallas game being the only outlier, Murray has a steal in every game this season, including three on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.

Where Murray could still improve moving forward is taking care of the basketball as he is currently averaging 2.6 turnovers per game. In some games, he takes care of the ball beautifully, but he can accumulate turnovers in bunches with four games of five or more miscues. Still, Murray is making the right decision more often than not, which means Denver can live with two turnovers a game.

Philadelphia 76ers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The growth Murray has made on both ends of the court has been substantial, a testament to his commitment to development. Murray has fully bought in on both ends of the floor and Denver is benefiting because of it.

If Murray can continue to play this consistently, there is a great chance he could make his first all-star team when the time comes in February. For now, let’s just enjoy what Murray is doing on the floor and everything will sort itself out.

One thing is certain though: Murray’s consistency problems are no longer a concern, and he is playing a major role in the Nuggets success to start the season.