Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets is nearing a recovery from his hamstring injury and will be accompanying the team on their upcoming five-game trip. Nuggets coach Michael Malone confirmed Murray's progress during a practice session on Thursday, although he was uncertain if the dynamic point guard would be available for any games in the tournament that begins with their match against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.
Malone expressed confidence in Murray's dedication to his recovery, stating that he is diligently working hard and showing positive improvement each day. The Nuggets, who currently hold a 2-0 record in the in-season tournament, are eager to have Murray back on the court.
Last season, Murray, alongside two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, played a crucial role in leading the Nuggets to their first-ever championship. Murray's exceptional performance in the playoffs, where he averaged 26.1 points per game, helped the team achieve a record of 16-4.
At the beginning of this season, Murray was off to a remarkable start, averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 assists per game. However, he suffered a hamstring injury on November 4th during a game against the Chicago Bulls. The team has been cautious with his recovery, given his history of injuries, including a torn ACL that forced him to miss the entire 2021-22 season.
In Murray's absence, veteran Reggie Jackson has stepped up to fill his role in the starting lineup and has also provided leadership to the second unit. His experience and performance have been instrumental in keeping the team competitive during Murray's absence.
Rookie Jalen Pickett has also seen his role expand due to Murray's injury. In a recent victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Pickett showcased his potential with five points in nearly 17 minutes of gameplay. Pickett attributes his growth to Murray, who has been mentoring and guiding him since the summer.
In addition to Pickett, Collin Gillespie has also received more playing time in Murray's absence after recovering from a broken leg that kept him out for the previous season. Gillespie played a season-high 20 minutes in a recent loss to the Houston Rockets, demonstrating the team's commitment to developing their younger players during Murray's recovery.
Michael Porter Jr. believes that providing playing time for the younger players, including Julian Strawther, will yield long-term benefits for the team. He recognizes the importance of players gaining experience and adapting to different roles throughout the course of the season.
As Murray continues to progress in his recovery, the Denver Nuggets remain optimistic about his return. His presence on the court will undoubtedly strengthen the team and bolster their chances of achieving success in the ongoing in-season tournament and beyond.