Jamal Murray is not waiting for it to come to him.
There was a wonderful profile of Jamal Murray’s offseason from The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider this week. It was music to the ears of Nuggets fans that are completely comfortable with Nikola Jokic as the Franchise Cornerstone but long for a foil to the Joker’s easygoing nature.
Murray showed some fire last season in his beef with Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Lonzo Ball (and now teammate Isaiah Thomas). He showed his icy coldness with the steal, foul and three free throws in Milwaukee.
He also showed it this offseason, the first as a professional that his health permitted him to work on his game. He reportedly put on 15 pounds. Where that strength will benefit Murray most is defensively. NBA guards are constantly run through screens and it is punishing. Though Murray has been an ironman, that physical pounding can take a shooter’s legs. A stronger Jamal can fight over screens but as-important he can punish screeners and free himself up defensively a little.
It almost seems as if Jamal needs to lead. He needs to be in-control to be in-control. His game is so predicated on confidence that anything that boosts the 21-year old’s confidence is worth a look.
So how does Murray lead on a team that belongs to Jokic? That’s one of the most exciting things of all about this Denver Nuggets team, they are truly different. Leadership like scoring can fall to any of the Nuggets top-seven players. We’ve mentioned Jokic and Murray but Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap have proven leadership ability on the starting unit. Add Trey Lyles and IT from the reserves and Denver can go seven deep with guys that can take over, whether scoring or directing.
Jamal Murray dedicating himself to the top of that list and a leading role on this team has potential to be the crown jewel in an offseason of gems. If Murray can truly compete with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and that guy in Utah, the Nuggets fortunes are bright, indeed