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Early returns for Zion Williamson, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard


Youth, plus patience and previous achievements, cautiously relaxed: Jamal Murray

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We haven’t seen Jamal Murray score more than 40 points yet since he dropped a 50 burger on the Cavs in February 2021. To be fair, he didn’t tear his ACL until a couple of days months later, there was no history of injury prior to the tear, and at his peak could score with any keeper in the NBA.

He didn’t return to the playoffs last season as many Denver fans had hoped, but I don’t want to rush back from the ACL when it doesn’t matter. So far, in about 26 minutes per game, he is still finding his feet and confidence in them. The Nuggets are 2-2 in his games (3-3 on aggregate) and he’s shooting 38% off the floor, 6 points below his career average.

Unless you have the money for the Nuggets to get the best record in the league, it’s too early to worry about him, or his team. They have two-time defending MVP, and Nikola Jokic essentially serves as the practice cake for Murray’s return.

My biggest worry about Denver is defense, and it will take some time for the seventh year keeper to regain his hold on enemy positions. Nuggets are the bottom four in allowable points at 111 per game, and only really two, possibly three, at the vanguard of their roster at Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon, and any other player that Nugs fans think I’ve forgotten.

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