In the 2020 NBA Playoffs, the Denver Nuggets surprised the NBA world by beating the LA Clippers after falling to 3-1 in the second round. Against all odds, the Denver Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference finals, where their dream run ended at the hands of the LA Lakers. Jamal Murray was a big part of Denver's fantastic playoff performance, especially against the Clippers. He put up 40 points in Game 7 against LAC to knock them out of the playoffs.
Murray performed well this season as well. After starting below his lofty standards, the Canadian guard had finally found form. However, he is now set to miss the remainder of the season after an injury. Murray suffered a torn ACL in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors on April 12th.
Denver Nuggets could still be a competitive team in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, even without Jamal Murray
There is no denying that Murray was one of the two most essential players for Mika Malone's Denver Nuggets. But the team's current construction could still be competitive in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The Nuggets had an outside chance to win the NBA title this year, but Murray's injury could put an end to those dreams. However, the team can still be a legitimate contender in 2021, and the future of the franchise remains bright.
This article will give you three reasons Jamal Murray's absence will not prevent the Denver Nuggets from being highly competitive in the NBA Playoffs.
#3 Michael Porter's rise
Michael Porter Jr. was playing at a high level when Murray was on the floor for Denver. The small forward scored 24 points and nine rebounds in the game Murray got injured. Since then, though, Porter has taken his game to a new level. He is averaging 26 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The sophomore has been on fire shooting the ball, making 59% of his field goals, 54% of his three-pointers and 83% from the free-throw line in his last seven appearances.
If Porter continues his progression and stays at this level in the NBA Playoffs, he will be a problem for rival teams.
#2 The Denver Nuggets have played well without Murray in the 2020-21 NBA season
Jamal Murray has missed eight games since his injury against the Golden State Warriors. Apart from this, the Denver Nuggets have played six additional games without Murray in the 2020-21 NBA season.
The Denver Nuggets are 10-4 without Murray this season and 7-1 since the unfortunate ACL injury suffered by the Canadian.
Since Murray went down, the team has been second in Offensive Rating in the NBA and ninth in Defensive Rating. The Denver Nuggets also have other key players who could be big contributors in the NBA Playoffs. Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter, Will Barton and the frontrunner for this year's NBA MVP award, Nikola Jokic, will look to propel the Nuggets to a deep playoff run.
#1 Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic is undoubtedly the frontrunner to win the 2020-21 NBA Most Valuable Player award. He is also the player who will lead Denver to a deep run in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Though Jamal Murray is the team's best guard player, the offense and playmaking of the squad go through Nikola Jokic's hands. Jokic is averaging 26.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game (which would be the highest in NBA history for a center).
Jokic also leads the NBA with 53 double-doubles in 62 appearances this year. He has been highly efficient offensively, making 56% of his field goals, 40% from the three-point line and 85% from the charity stripe.
With Jokic still running the Denver Nuggets offense, the team could still be a great contender in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.