The Nuggets selected Kentucky guard Jamal Murray with the No. 7 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft at the Barclays Center.
Murray averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists during his freshman year under John Calipari.
The Ontario, Canada, native started playing basketball at 3 years old. By age 6, he was playing in a league for 10-year-olds.
He was teammates with Thon Maker at Orangeville Prep, a top Canadian basketball school, and also represented Canada at the Pan American Games.
Murray caught the eye of scouts and Kentucky when he scored a game-high 30 points at the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit. He reclassified from 2016 to 2015 so that he could play for Kentucky sooner. Ever the hype man, Kentucky coach John Calipari believes that Murray should be selected No. 1 overall.
Strengths: Murray was Kentucky’s leading scorer as a freshman and its most reliable regular three-point shooter. Murray played off the ball at Kentucky, and honed his skills at getting open, fighting through picks and shooting over screens. He can drive and score, but his greatest strength in the NBA will be as a pick-and-pop shooter. His height and sturdy frame should be able to handle the rigors of an NBA season. NBA teams will love his devotion to basketball—he has very few hobbies outside of the sport and has only tweeted 36 times since joining the social media network a little more than a year ago. His age gives him an edge too. He has developed very few bad habits that need to be broken, and NBA teams will be able to mold him into a pro who excels in their system.
Weaknesses: Because Kentucky had a tremendous pure point guard in Tyler Ulis, Murray received very little playing time at the one. He actually averaged more turnovers (2.3) per game than assists (2.2). In other words, he excels at creating his own offensive but doesn’t make nearly enough plays for his teammates. Teams looking for a point guard or even a combo guard may steer clear of Murray because of those weaknesses in his game. He also can be stiff-footed defensively and looked very raw when compared to Ulis, who effectively and aggressively defended opposing point guards.
Explanation: The Nuggets are winners here, landing an extremely young combo guard in Murray to pair with Emmanuel Mudiay long-term. Murray can really shoot the basketball, and was a no-brainer as a pure scorer with room to grow. He had a case in the top five, and makes for a great value and personnel fit. The questions with him come defensively, and that’s an area where Denver will almost certainly struggle as currently constituted. But he makes a whole lot of sense and will be a nice addition to an intriguing group of young parts. - Jeremy Woo