The first week of free agency is always a week to get excited about for NBA gurus. Once that first week is over, the rumors die down. Most of the stars have settled into new contracts but there are always a few stragglers. With the overflow of talent available this year, the stragglers are still pretty good.
The question is: Are the Nuggets done playing their hand in the free agent market?
The Nuggets Next Move
They obviously made a splash landing All-Star Paul Millsap, but had also shown interest in finding an upgrade at point guard. Most notably, Denver managed to set up a meeting with Chris Paul but he got traded before free agency began.
Commodities just as George Hill, Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, and Jeff Teague flew off the shelves quickly. But with the dust settled there still remain a few intriguing options.
These intrigues include the likes of Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. But are they intriguing enough? It doesn’t seem like they are to the Nuggets. The lack of interest shown indicates they may be looking internally for their point guard of the future.
Point Guard of The Future
Jamal Murray seems poised to take that spot at the moment. While Coach Malone was complimentary of Jameer Nelson‘s play and leadership last year, it’s hard to be the point guard of the future at 35 years old. And while being 21 years old helps Emmanuel Mudiay‘s chances, his lackluster of deficiencies don’t. It’s all the more sensible to build around the potential of Jamal Murray. That friendly rookie deal that he carries with him is also helpful.
As a natural shooting guard, playing the point had its expected learning curve for Murray. By the end of the season though, he looked much more comfortable in the extended minutes he played at that spot.
Closing out the 2016-17 campaign, Murray started at point guard in six of the team’s final seven games. In those six starts, he played 35 minutes per game to average 16.3 points on 48.7% shooting to go along with 5.2 assists. The shooting percentage can be misleading, giving the impression that he was very consistent in these games. The truth is, he had totals as low as six points and zero assists and as high as 30 points and 10 assists all in different games.
How to Fix the Inconsistencies
The inconsistencies may be discouraging but here are a few key points to help negate any concerns:
One point is the potential he showed. We all get tired of hearing that overrated word that gets far overused around the time of the draft, but it’s a deserving word to be used on Murray. Not a lot of guys can look as good as he did at a new position that fast.
Another thing in his favor is he can only get better. This is partially because he played the entire year through a sports hernia injury. If he’s willing to play through that then he’s going to be willing to put the time in to get better. Playing healthy should also help his production as well as being more experienced.
This Roster is Important
Finally, a good partial point in his favor to end with is that he just fits the current Nuggets mold perfectly. He’s young and is never talked about outside of Denver. The Nuggets could potentially start a lineup of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Paul Millsap, and Nikola Jokic. Talk about underrated. If you were trying to build a winning team with the most underrated players in the league at each position, this could very well be the exact lineup you’d create.
Hopefully if this is the direction the team goes in, it’s as exciting to watch as we expect it to be. Only time will tell but for now it seems like the point guard of the future is already here in the present.