Denver Nuggets: Who will be the second star next to Jokic?
Although the Denver Nuggets were recently eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, they still had an impressive regular season. Franchise superstar and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic did the best he could in leading his team to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. With franchise centerpieces, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr, returning to full health, the Nuggets could easily compete with just about any team in the NBA.
Furthermore, in a fully healthy Western Conference, Jokic will not be able to survive as the Nuggets’ only star. Head coach Mike Malone will need an All-Star talent next to Jokic if the Nuggets are aiming for a deep postseason run.
The Nuggets only have two players on their current roster who would be ideal for this role. Both Murray and Porter Jr. are due for an All-Star caliber season. The only factor that stands in their way is health. If these two can stay healthy for the majority of the season, the Nuggets could be a lock for a top-three seed in the Western Conference.
Moreover, only one of Murray and Porter Jr will be given the responsibilities of a secondary star. With six years of experience and a play style like no other, Murray is the perfect man for the job. The Denver Nuggets could make their first-ever Finals appearance with Murray and Jokic leading the way.
During the NBA bubble, Nuggets fan’s got a glimpse of how dominant Murray can be when he is fully healthy. In addition to his premier scoring abilities, Murray is also a great playmaker and an improved perimeter defender. Not to mention, Murray’s experience playing in the NBA can allow him to be the leader the Denver Nuggets have been waiting on.
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is the ultimate secondary star for Jokic.
Heading into next season, the Denver Nuggets may have a top-five duo in the NBA with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. The scoring and playmaking abilities of Jokic work extremely well with Murray’s efficient shot creation. Opposing teams will not be able to center their attention on Jokic, as he can pass the ball to Murray for an open shot.
On the flip side, this strategy can work both ways. Throughout his career, Murray has improved significantly as a facilitating point guard. Not only did Murray average 4.8 assists per game before his ACL injury, but he also had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.14. Additionally, Murray shot 43.9% on catch & shoot three-pointers throughout the 2020-21 NBA season.
On the court, Murray and Jokic have excellent chemistry. During the 2020-21 season, the duo of Murray and Jokic posted an offensive rating of 122.3, a defensive rating of 110.9, a true-shooting percentage of 61.5, and a “player impact estimate” of 55.6. These numbers are parallel to some of the best two-man lineups across the league.
Murray has also proven he can advance the offense during the minutes Jokic is off the court. Malone and the Nuggets’ coaching staff can mix and match several different lineups that may confuse defenses. This can lead to more opportunities on both ends of the floor. With that being said, there is no better fit next to a two-time MVP than point guard like Murray. As he makes his return from a season-ending injury, Murray is set to have the best year of his career.
The back-to-back MVP must look no further, as Murray could be in the mix for his first-ever All-Star selection this season.