Superstar is defined in Merriam-Webster as “star (as in sports or the movies) who is considered extremely talented, has great public appeal, and can usually command a high salary.” Jamal Murray was given the salary last season when the Denver Nuggets gave him a five-year, $170 million extension, we know he’s extremely talented, and his public appeal is fantastic.
Seems to check every box and oh yeah, the eye test does not lie as well. Murray showed the entire sports world what he was about on Monday when he scored 36 points in the Nuggets game one victory over the Utah Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell dropped 57 points for the Jazz and it was still not enough to beat Murray and the Nuggets. Not only did Murray score just a tick under 40 points, but he did it on an efficient 13-of-20 shooting from the field while making 6-of-9 from behind the three-point line.
With playoff basketball officially back and the entire sports world watching, Murray and the Nuggets did not disappoint. With the game on the line, Murray continued to make incredible shot after incredible shot to lead the Nuggets to victory.
To get to where we are today, you have to rewind all the way back to the 2016 draft when Denver selected Murray with the seventh overall pick. Alongside Nikola Jokic, Murray’s game has grown significantly over the past four years, which has played a major role in the Nuggets being one of the best teams in the Western Conference over the past two seasons.
It all started in last year’s playoffs when Murray averaged 21.3 points and 4.7 assists per game. Murray singlehandedly won a few playoff games for Denver, but he struggled at other times. The most difficult performance for Murray happened in Denver’s game 7 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers when he scored 17 points on just 4-of-18 shooting from the field.
Perhaps that fueled the fire as Murray began the 2019-20 on a mission. Not only was Murray playing more consistently, but his growth as a passer was on full display as well. Murray has always been able to operate the two-man game with Nikola Jokic at high-efficiency, but now he was doing more with every player on the floor.
Fast forward to what has transpired in the Orlando bubble and Murray looks to be in the best shape of his life. Not only has Murray packed on more muscle, but he is playing with a confidence and swagger that is unmatched by anyone on the floor.
That confidence feeds the rest of the Nuggets roster, a big reason why they escaped this first game against the Jazz with a victory. The Nuggets are never out of a game with Murray on the floor, and he proved that once again today with his dominant play in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Nuggets scoring plays when Jamal Murray checked in at 5:53 left in 4Q:— Jawob Murray (@WorldWideWob) August 17, 2020
Murray AST Jokic 2
Murray AST Jokic 2
Jokic FTs (2)
Murray AST Morris 3
Murray AST Jokic 3
Grant FTs (4)
Murray’s ability to take over a game is why he is a star. Even though Murray has never made an All-Star team, he seems well on his way to achieving that goal next season. How high his stardom goes could truly be decided on how far the Nuggets go in this year’s postseason with Jokic and Murray leading the Nuggets together.
If Murray is the second best player on a team that makes it to the NBA Finals, you have to label him a star. If he can lead them to the promised land, Murray will be categorized as nothing less than a star. Today was another step forward in that direction, and there is no indication that Murray is going to slow down anytime soon.
Buckle up NBA, the Blue Arrow has arrived and he is here to stay.