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The Rise of Jamal Murray: Canada's next NBA star

Jamal Murray was born in Kitchener, Ont. in 1997. 23 years later and he is one of the hottest names in the 2020 NBA Playoffs and has quickly become one of the best Canadian basketball players off all-time.

(Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jamal Murray, a Canadian from Kitchener, Ont. has not forgotten his roots. From playing with Thon Maker at Orangeville Prep to leading Kentucky to an elite-8 finish, he is now playing for a trip to the NBA Finals. Jamal Murray has had quite the journey and it’s time to take a look back at Murray’s journey to the NBA.

High School Days

Jamal Murray, from the start of high school, was making heads turn in Kitchener, Ontario. Murray attended Grand River Collegiate Institute for a short time in Kitchener before transferring to Orangeville Prep. From there, it was clear that Murray was special; Murray made a dominant duo along with Thon maker to help take down many Canadian and US Schools during his time at Orangeville Prep.

(AP Photo)

After an impressive season at Orangeville Prep, In 2015, Murray was invited to the Nike Hoop Summit, and he impressed not only scouts but Kentucky University as well. Murray finished with a game-high 30 points and was named the game MVP. Murray was later offered scholarships from Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon, Wake Forest and Kentucky. Murray chose to sign with the Wildcats and was off to Kentucky.

College Ball

(Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

Jamal Murray arrived in Kentucky with a massive smile on his face and was ready to get to work. Who knew a kid from Kitchener would be playing ball at the University of Kentucky . Murray did not disappoint wildcat fans in his one and only collegiate season as he averaged 20 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, shooting 45 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from beyond the arc in 35 MPG while appearing in 36 games. During his impressive freshman season at Kentucky, Murray picked up some hardware. He earned first team honours for the SEC, as well as the SEC All-Freshmen award. He was one of the 25 selected for both the preseason and midseason Wooden Award, which is awarded to the most outstanding men and women of college basketball for that year. Murray also took home first team honours for the SEC tournament. Despite not winning a national championship, he still finished college with some awards to his name.

Murray helped propel Kentucky to a 27-9 record and a second seed in the March Madness tournament. After getting past Northern KY, Wichita State, and the third seed UCLA, Murray had led the Wildcats to an elite-8 matchup against UNC. It was a wild back and forth game that ended in UNC taking the game 75-73 and sent Murray and the Wildcats packing. Despite being eliminated in the elite-8, Jamal Murray’s journey did not end. He immediately declared for the NBA draft in April of 2016. Following the paths of many former collegiate players of doing the one and done route. Murray was then invited to the NBA combine between May 11th and the 15th in Chicago, Illinois. 

After an impressive showing at the NBA combine, showing off his vertical (39.5 inches) and speed (2.79 shuttle run), Murray attracted many NBA teams’ attention. One of those teams was the Denver Nuggets. At the time, they had a subpar backcourt in Jameer Nelson and Gary Harris. They were looking for an upgrade.

NBA Career

Jamal Murray heard his name called early in the 2016 NBA Draft, going seventh overall to the Denver Nuggets. The pick was a no brainer for the Nuggets; Murray was one of the most exciting and coming players from College and destined to be a star. During his rookie season, Murray appeared in all 82 games, starting in 10 of them, averaging 9.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, and 2.6 RPG while shooting 40 per cent from the field. Over the next two seasons, Murray made an enormous leap from his rookie season as he made significant improvements to his game to develop his game. After starting in only 10 games in his first season, Jamal started in 80 of the 81 games he played in the next year, almost doubling his production to 16.7 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.7 RPG and improving his field goal percentage by five percentage points. Jamal’s third year saw him make a slight improvement from year two by increasing his production to 18.2 PPG, 4.2 APG, and 3.4 RPG. Each year, Murray has made subtle improvements to his game to make him a better player at his position. 

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

While putting impressive numbers for the Nuggets, he has helped them finish in the top three of the Western Conference in the past two seasons and making back to back trips to the Western Semi-finals. This past season, although it was a shortened season this year due to COVID-19, Murray still put some impressive numbers in 59 regular-season games. As he finished the season averaging 18.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 4.0 RPG and shooting 45 per cent from the field and 34 per cent from beyond the arc, leading the Nuggets to the third-best record in the west, only behind the Clippers and Lakers. 

Murray is continuing to be a star for an always surprising Nuggets team that has shown the NBA world they are not meant to take lightly. With the run they have been on during these 2020 playoffs, Murray has shown that he can be that guy to lead to his team to victory and step-up when necessary. I am excited to see what the future holds for Jamal Murray and see how his career plays out over the next five to ten years.


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