For over two and a half quarters in last night’s eventual 123-113 loss to the Washington Wizards, the Denver Nuggets were getting crushed on their home floor. With 3:57 left in the third quarter, Denver subbed Jamal Murray in for Jameer Nelson. The score at that point was 92-69 Wizards, so coach Malone was hoping for a bit of a spark from Murray to get the team going. Malone got exactly what he was hoping for and then some. The Nuggets immediately gained some tempo and went on a 16-5 scoring run to close out the third with the blue arrow scoring Denver’s last ten points of the quarter on 4-4 shooting and 2-2 from downtown.
Murray’s energy and scoring brought the score to a much more respectable twelve point deficit to open up the fourth quarter. The effort shown by Murray was apparently enough to convince coach Malone to give him the rest of the game, as Jamal played the entire fourth quarter and Jameer Nelson did not return to the floor. The late comeback attempt was squashed by John Wall and the rest of the Wizards, but Jamal Murray showed everybody that he is ready to take on a larger role with the team as he finished with 17 points on 7-15 from the field and 3-5 from deep.
Jameer Nelson took over the starting job on January 23rd when Emmanuel Mudiay was ruled out due to an injury and has started all but one game at point guard since. Malone liked the way Jameer had been playing and chose to ride him since then. I believe last night’s game should have been Jameer’s last game starting over Jamal Murray.
Right now Jamal Murray is the best option at point guard for the Nuggets. Not only do the fans want to see Murray start and get more consistent minutes, but the stats back it up. Since the beginning of February, Jameer Nelson has averaged 9.5 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 3.1 RPG on 28.5 minutes per game. Meanwhile, in the same timespan, Jamal Murray has averaged 11.2 PPG, 2.1 APG, and 2.4 RPG on 21.9 MPG off the bench with a slashline of 41/36/96. Murray is scoring more points per game in six less minutes per game while also coming off the bench.
Murray’s unique offensive scoring and playmaking skillset combined with the energy he always brings with him to the floor always gives Denver a boost. Jamal can get hot at any moment and make a bunch of jumpers in a row, along with some incredibly craft finishes. He has proven to play extremely well alongside the Nuggets’ two other best youngsters Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic and fits in with Denver’s constantly moving offense when Jokic is on the floor. The fans want more of the Blue Arrow and at this point, he is the best option for the Nuggets as they continue to push towards taking the eight seed in the Western Conference. Denver has a tough schedule coming up but if they are going to get through it with a playoff seed intact, Jamal Murray should be the guy running the point. It is time to unleash Jamal Murray.