Warriors

Nuggets' Murray compared to Steph since college; Dray impressed

Warriors

Steph Curry shot an other-worldly 45.4 percent from 3-point range during the 2015-16 NBA season, on 11.2 attempts per game.

That same year, a freshman at the University of Kentucky named Jamal Murray shot 40.8 percent from deep on 7.7 attempts per game.

Unsurprisingly, Murray -- who finished nine 3s shy of Curry's NCAA record for a freshman -- began hearing comparisons to the Warriors superstar while he rocked a Wildcats uniform. And he was asked about Curry during the press conference when he announced he was declaring for the NBA draft.

“I like him. I watch him a lot. My dad enjoys watching him. We study his shot," Murray said.

Two days before Murray was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 draft (which was very fitting because Curry was the seventh overall pick in 2009), Kentucky coach John Calipari praised the 6-foot-5 guard.

"I believe that Jamal Murray will be the leading scoring rookie in the NBA," Calipari declared. "There's not a shot that he doesn't think he can make.

“His release is kind of similar to Steph (Curry)."

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Fast forward to present day, and the comparisons have returned. The main reason for this is because Murray has been sensational in the Orlando bubble.

 

The 23-year-old is averaging 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds through 17 playoff games, while shooting 50.5 percent overall and nearly 48 percent from deep (on 7.6 attempts). He scored 50 points twice in the Denver Nuggets' first-round series win over the Utah Jazz.

Murray racked up 28 points (10-for-17 FG) and 12 assists in Denver's win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night, and got a lot of love from NBA Twitter.

The timing was perfect because Michael Pina of FiveThirtyEight published a feature Tuesday morning with the headline "Jamal Murray Isn’t The New Steph Curry, But He Might Be Close."

"Curry had to travel and play in packed arenas. Murray does not have to travel and is in a bubble," Pina wrote. "And most importantly, Curry had established himself as a superstar during the regular season, while Murray’s statistical production from his third to fourth year had plateaued — he’s never been an All-Star, let alone an MVP candidate or even the best player on his own team."

These are great points and important context to keep in mind when engaging in conversation with friends and family.

The Nuggets are banking on the above happening because the five-year, $158.3 million max contract extension Murray signed in the summer of 2019 begins next season.

Plain and simple -- if the Canada native elevates his game and becomes a perennial All-Star, the duo of Murray and Nikola Jokic is going to be a major problem for the rest of the Western Conference for years to come.

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