Denver Nuggets Post-Season Grades and Awards ’17-’18

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Jamal Murray took giant strides in his first full season as the Nuggets starting Point Guard.

Statistically, he improved his scoring from 9.9 ppg to 16.7, rebounds from 2.6 to 3.7 and his assists were up from 2.1 to 3.4.  There’s a perception that his low assists can be attributed to his ball-handling and passing skill.  More accurately, Jamal plays in an offense that relies on the point guard to play a lot more like a two guard.  The offense flows through the center and when it doesn’t, the read-and-react Nuggets have several proficient ball handlers.  Murray doesn’t employ traditional point guard tactics because the Nuggets are an atypical offensive team.

Murray also has a fire that’s been missing since the K-Mart days.  Not in the mold of Bad Boy Detroit, more along the lines of Kobe.  A mixture of confidence and competitiveness that can rattle opponents and opposing teams (Lakers).  He’s going to need to match his output to that attitude to avoid being seen as a “pest” or worse.  Jusuf Nurkic is learning a valuable lesson currently about the consequences of running your mouth without the commensurate on-court play.

Murray has commented that in a pain and rehab free offseason, he wants to get his three point percentage to equal his free throw percentage.  He shot 91% from the line this season.  That’s Jamal.  Walking that line between confidence and arrogance is a strength.  I’ve always said if you are drafting a top player from Kentucky, Carolina, Duke or Kansas there is far less risk.  Great players come from everywhere but those four Universities consistently produce the most NBA-capable players.  It’s more than physical gifts, it’s character and basketball IQ as well.  Think of how good you have to be at basketball to start as a Freshmen for a UK team that just saw four of it’s starting five go in the first round of the NBA draft (KAT, Booker, WCS, Lyles)?  Really good and with a commitment to get better, it’s hard not to be excited about Murray.