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Is 2019 Jamal Murray’s True Breakout Year?

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Jamal Murray signed a monster five-year, $170 million dollar contract this offseason, comparable to the contracts also signed this offseason by Kris Middleton and Ben Simmons.

This contract shows that the Denver Nuggets’ front office believes that Murray has a higher ceiling than the 18 points, four boards, and five assists per game stat line that he posted in the 2018 regular season. It also shows that the front office has no problem paying their talented draft picks and developing their core players with patience.

The 2018 playoff version of Jamal Murray posted a better stat line of 21-4-5, and that is closer to the player the Nuggets believe they will get for the rest of his career. But, there still a tier above the one Murray is at that, if achieved, will catapult him into the elite conversation, to be mentioned with the other All NBA point guards like Steph Curry, Russel Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving.

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As fans, the Jamal Murray alter ego we’ve come to know and love, “The Blue Arrow”, is the ceiling that we hope Jamal eventually blossoms into. The Blue Arrow is the Jamal Murray that fought back from a 19-point deficit in Game 2 against San Antonio in the playoffs, dropping 21 fourth-quarter points, scoring in every way shape and form, and hitting the game-winning clutch baskets down the stretch.

That Jamal Murray looks un-guardable, he looks confident, he looks like he knows he’s going to score, he’s toying with his defender. That’s the $170 million dollar player the Nuggets believe they will eventually have on a nightly basis. The Blue Arrow has an opportunity, alongside Nikola Jokic, to take a giant leap forward this offseason and catapult the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever NBA Championship.

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Last season, the Nuggets were in playoffs-or-bust mode, and earning two rounds of playoff experience was the perfect conclusion to the entire season. This year, as fans, I don’t think it is unfair to believe that this Nuggets roster has that same mindset.

The Nuggets could look to be a 55-plus win team in 2019, claim a top spot in the Western Conference, and run through the NBA Playoffs next season while hoping to meet either the 76ers or the Bucks in the NBA Finals. This could be a reality if Jamal Murray takes the NBA by storm next season like the fans believe he can.

Nikola Jokic is a top-10 caliber player in the NBA; he’s young and still has a chance to take another step forward next season after claiming All-NBA honors last season. Jamal Murray needs to jump from a good player that shows flashes of elite talent to a more consistent, closer to the elite-type player.

Gary Harris and Will Barton need to stay healthy and continue to work on their personal development. Harris is an underrated defender and player overall, and Barton has the spark and scoring ability to be a serious scorer either as a starter or as the sixth man.

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This Nuggets roster has so many role players with Monte Morris being a backup facilitator and 40 percent three-point shooter, and Malik Beasley, a high flying dunk artist that also shoots 40 percent from deep.

Paul Millsap is a crafty veteran scorer that plays some of the best defense on the team, while Torrey Craig is a lockdown three-and-D small forward, and Mason Plumlee a backup center that dunks defends the rim and facilitates.

The accumulation of all of these pieces was the brilliant work of Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly and has the Nuggets in position to develop a dynasty over the next five years. If Jamal Murray can take a leap forward as a player, and land in the category of elite point guards, this roster has the potential to forever enshrine the Denver Nuggets in championship lore.

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