Continuing our top 25 player rankings, we arrive at our first player outside of the 20s, Jamal Murray. Since entering the league in 2016, Murray has been known as a reliable three-level scorer. After an incredible playoff run, his stock is at an all-time high.
Top 25 NBA players 2023-24: No. 19 Jamal Murray
A Prolific Scorer and Elite Playoff Performer
There is no better guard to pair with Nikola Jokic than Murray. The duo is a perfect fit and forms the most dangerous two-man game in the league. Murray is an explosive and gifted three-level scorer, perfect next to Jokic’s elite playmaking. Murray is a clutch scorer who gets timely buckets in the fourth quarter. In addition to his scoring gifts, Murray is a capable playmaker and can make a positive all-around impact in the rare case of an off-night. However, what’s most impressive about Murray is his elite playoff performance. Throughout his career, Murray has been a playoff riser. This was especially true last season, where he had the best stretch of his career en route to his first title.
Last year was Murray’s first season back from an ACL injury in 2021. After not playing for nearly a year and a half, many wondered how impactful he would be. However, Murray bounced back nicely and returned to his pre-injury form. During the regular season, he played at a fringe All-Star level. Murray was an all-around offensive threat throughout the season, especially as a scorer. He also had his best season as a playmaker and all-around player. However, Murray’s playoff run is what really made his season special and caused him to shoot up the list. In his last playoff run, he was brilliant in the 2020 bubble.
In the 2023 playoffs, Murray picked up right where he left off in 2020, emerging as an elite three-level and isolation scorer. Murray’s scoring average jumped from 20 points in the regular season to 26 in the playoffs. This was a huge boost to Denver’s offense and made them almost unstoppable. Ultimately, the Nuggets dominated their way to the franchise’s first title, losing just four games the entire playoffs. Murray was the second option on a powerful title team, proving his spot amongst the league’s best. Not bad for your first year back from an ACL injury.
The Nuggets lost some important players, including Bruce Brown, this offseason. However, Denver still projects to be one the best teams in the league and could very well win back-to-back titles. Murray is clearly the Nuggets’ second most important player, and they will need him to continue his stellar play if they want to repeat as champions. Furthermore, Murray is arguably the best player in the league never to be named to an All-Star team. After his amazing playoff run and a Nuggets title, it’s fair to predict Murray will be an All-Star this year.
Additionally, another year removed from injury could cause Murray’s scoring numbers to be closer to his stats in the playoffs. Last year, we also saw the most flashes of Murray’s all-around game. At 26, he enters his prime, and an increased all-around game could be his next evolution.
The Last Word on Jamal Murray
At face value, ranking a player who’s never been an All-Star at 19 may seem like a reach. However, Murray’s playoff performance and elite skill set more than justifies his spot on the list. Murray has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he can be the second-best player on a title team. That’s more than you can say about the vast majority of players, even stars in the league.