When ESPN’s Jonathan Givony asked Jamal Murray in April of 2015 where he’d be in five years, the Canadian guard responded: “In the NBA hopefully. That’s my dream. Having a degree in school, something to look forward to after basketball if it doesn’t work out.”
The NBA is definitely working out for Murray, who will now face the biggest test of his young career in the stellar LA Clippers defense.
Murray’s three-game, 142-point playoff outburst heading into Wednesday night’s Game 7 forced the Utah Jazz to get the ball out of his hands, opening the door for his Denver Nuggets to advance in the NBA playoffs with a grind-it-out win. Despite a less-than-stellar performance, Murray received star-level respect from the Utah defense, which blitzed, bumped and crowded the 23-year-old guard like he was a perennial All-Star. Down the stretch, Murray scored four of Denver’s final six points in an 80-78 victory, showing the type of resilience that allowed him to shine against older competition his entire prep career.
Although he ranked 19th in our 25-under-25 rankings in March, only four players ahead of Murray are still playing (Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Jaylen Brown and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), and he’s trending toward All-Star status soon.
How did Murray slip to pick No. 7 in the 2016 draft, behind guards Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield? And, more important, how has he been able to carry Denver this far and what does it mean for his future potential?
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