Jamal Murray has brought the word “swagger” back to the Mile High City.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, swagger is too, “Conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner; especially: to walk with an air of overbearing self-confidence.” Self-confidence is the key word in that definition, and it’s something that Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray certainly doesn’t lack.
Matching against Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, Murray seemed to take it as a challenge of how far he could get under Ball’s skin throughout the night. Murray was tenacious on the offensive end of the court and went after Ball right from the beginning.
Very thorough analysis of first quarter Jamal: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/OjWn1QEasp
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 3, 2017
The emotion that Murray had after making the shot really showcased his competitiveness, which was put even more on display as the game wore on.
"The kid from Kentucky is pumped!" Jamal Murray hits his fifth 3 and draws the charge on Lonzo. pic.twitter.com/jn9RjrjPea
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 3, 2017
After hitting a big shot on offense, Murray still had the awareness to get back on the defensive end of the court and draw the charge on Ball. The emotion Murray shows after the play just shows the passion and energy he brings to the floor night in and night out.
Murray finished the night with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Murray shot 8-20 from the field and 5-8 from behind the three-point line. The five three-pointers Murray made were the most he’s made in a game all season and totaled the number of threes he made in the past seven games combined. Murray is shooting just 25.3 percent from behind the arc this year and has only made 24 of the 95 threes he’s attempted. The elongated shooting slump to start the season has been a bit troublesome, but Murray has still had games in which you think, “Well maybe the slumps over now.”Murray has certainly shown he’s a scorer after shooting 33 percent from behind the arc during his rookie season and drilling 115 three-pointers. Even back in college, during his one season at Kentucky Murray shot over 40 percent from three and made 113 threes in just 36 games.
When Murray is playing care-free basketball that’s when he’s at his best. There’s been growing pains with Murray as the teams starting point guard since the start of the season, and turnovers have seemed to be the root of the problem. Murray hasn’t had a turnover free game since the Nuggets thrashing of the New Orleans Pelicans on November 17th. That also was the game in which Murray scored a career high 31 points on 13-18 shooting. Consistency with handling the basketball seemed to be Murray’s biggest issue throughout the start of the season, but his scoring numbers and shooting percentages have started to raise some eyebrows.
Even the best basketball players go into slumps from time to time, and that seemed to be the case for Murray early on. Once you start to get to the quarter mark of the season though, then it’s time to reevaluate and see if there’s a problem at hand. Murray’s only made two or more three-pointers in eight of the Nuggets 22 games so far this season and has seemed to struggle with even some of the most open threes you’ll ever see. Just when you start to worry about Murray though, he has performances like you saw against the Pelicans and in the Nuggets most recent game against the Lakers.
In games that Murray has scored in double figures this season the Nuggets are 7-5. And, in games where Murray has shot over 33 percent from behind the three-point line the Nuggets are 8-2. The biggest takeaway from that is that when Murray is scoring and scoring efficiently, the Nuggets are having success. The Nuggets already get their fix on the offensive end of the court from Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Paul Millsap (when healthy). Anything that Murray can add to that is just icing on the cake and gives the Nuggets even more of a chance to win on a nightly basis.
The Nuggets run a lot of their offense through Jokic, but having a point guard who can play turnover free and efficient basketball is big if the team wants to sustain success. When the Nuggets released veteran point guard Jameer Nelson at the beginning of the season and didn’t end up trading for Eric Bledsoe, they were making a statement that they trusted their two young point guards. So far, both Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay have been inconsistent to start the season, but when both are taking care of the basketball, the Nuggets have found success. In games where Murray has had just one turnover this season, the Nuggets have a record of 6-2. A small sample size sure, but it shows just how important it is that Murray takes care of the basketball when he’s on the court.
When Jamal Murray has his “swagger” working, the Nuggets are usually in good shape. Murray brings a “swagger” and “confidence” that the Nuggets haven’t had since the Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Kenyon Martin days. Murray has showed that he won’t back down from anyone and certainly showed that on Saturday night against the Lakers. Here were the final seconds of the game where Murray decided to do a little showboating around Lonzo Ball.
Murray dribbled around Lonzo to end the game and Randle wasn’t happy 👀 pic.twitter.com/DiB15k82UU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 3, 2017
Love it or hate it, it’s who Jamal Murray is. The swagger that Murray possesses is something that’s contagious and its something that a whole team can build around. Murray is still just 20 years old and seems primed to be the Nuggets point guard of the future. The early season struggles by Murray are hopefully just a little hiccup in what hopes to be an amazing career. There’s a reason that Tim Connelly and his staff refused to include Murray in any trade talks for Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving during the summer of 2017. It’s because the kid has guts, energy, and a will to win, and that’s something you just don’t find everyday.
If the Nuggets are going to make it back to the postseason they’ll need Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap (when he’s healthy), but those guys can’t do it alone. When Jamal Murray is on his game this team wins, and the swagger he brings every night is infectious. If Murrays shooting percentage can improve and the turnovers get cut down, then there’s no telling how far this team can go.