Jamal Murray Will Be “Really Bad For 20 Games,” According to Nikola Jokic

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Jamal Murray Will Be "Really Bad For 20 Games" According to Nikola Jokic

Excitement is at an all-time high in Mile High with Jamal Murray’s return for the Denver Nuggets.

Wednesday’s season opener against Utah will be the first regular season action Murray has seen since suffering a torn ACL in April 2021. Due to his recovery, he missed the entire 2021-22 season in what was a relative down season for Denver.

While speaking to the media on Tuesday, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic decided to tamper expectations for his co-star.

“I love to play with him of course. I know he’s going to be really bad for 20 games or so, but we’ll survive,” Jokic said jokingly. “He’ll need to get into a rhythm and hopefully he’ll be back to old Jamal before the injury.”

As the old saying goes, all jokes have some truth to them. There are high expectations for the Nuggets, but there will be some growing pains for both Murray and Michael Porter Jr., who only appeared in nine games due to injury.

Jamal Murray = Denver Nuggets Success

For Murray, it has been 18 months since he has played a meaningful game, not counting the preseason. And the “old Jamal” that Nikola Jokic was referring to is a very high bar. Before the injury, Jamal Murray was in the midst of a career season. He averaged a career-high in points (21.2), true shooting percentage (59.2%), and three-point percentage (40.8%).  The Nuggets also had a +6.3 plus/minus rating with Murray on the floor, also a career-high for the 25-year-old.

As for the Nuggets, Wednesday night’s opener will be the first time Jokic, Murray, and Porter Jr. have played together since 2021. When all three are on the court, it has been a proven recipe for success. The trio averaged a plus/minus rating of +6.8 in 2021, while the pair of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray averaged +7.1. The Nuggets were 34-19 before Murray’s injury.

After three straight top-three Western Conference finishes, the Denver Nuggets fell to sixth in 2022. But with Murray & Porter Jr.’s return, combined with the acquisitions of defenders such as Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Nuggets are viewed as contenders again. But take it from two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, it is going to take some time.