The Denver Nuggets lost star point guard Jamal Murray for the remainder of their 2020-21 campaign after he suffered a devastating torn ACL in his left knee. Murray sustained the injury late in the fourth quarter of their 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday.
The obvious consequence of losing Murray means Denver’s NBA championship aspirations, for this season at least, are completely out the window. The Nuggets’ title chances have almost dropped to zero considering how crucial the 24-year-old is for their success. There is absolutely no way for Denver to fill the void with Murray done for the year, especially with the way he performed in the bubble in Orlando last season.
With that said, here are three other major ripple effects of Jamal Murray’s season-ending injury.
3. Nikola Jokic’s MVP season
This could actually go two ways. Either Murray’s absence derails Nikola Jokic’s MVP hopes, or perhaps it could further propel The Joker into nabbing his first Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
Murray obviously means a lot to Denver’s success. Losing him will likely send the fourth-seeded Nuggets down the Western Conference standings. The further Denver descends, the lesser Jokic’s chances get of winning the MVP. That’s the first scenario.
As for the second, maybe the Nuggets don’t fall in the standings due to the Serbian center’s Herculean efforts. Perhaps Jokic plays inspired basketball for his fallen brother. Maybe he balls out of his mind for the rest of the way (as if he already isn’t doing so at this point of the season) and leads Denver to a top-four seed in the West bloodbath. Jokic’s MVP chances will even be stronger should he find a way to keep Denver afloat without a top star.
2. Lakers benefit from Murray’s injury
As much as we hate to see a great young talent, or anyone for that matter, go down with a serious injury like Murray did, the Los Angeles Lakers should find some positives with the Nuggets down a star. The defending champs, who are currently a half-game behind Denver for the fourth spot, are dealing with their own respective injuries to their superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Of course, both are set to return soon for the Lakers within the next couple of weeks.
Murray’s injury could slide Denver in the standings, which could propel the Lakers past them in the standings as the season winds down. Should this happen, there is also a possibility that they face each other in the first round. Should the Western Conference Finals opponents from a year ago go head-to-head in Round 1, Denver would be at an even bigger disadvantage with the Lakers getting home court as an indirect result of Murray’s injury.
1. Denver’s 2021-22 season
The Nuggets have yet to disclose an official timetable for Murray. But considering it’s already mid-April and the 2021-22 campaign could potentially begin in October, it’s very likely Murray won’t be ready to take the floor by the time the new season starts.
Therefore, this could also potentially dent Denver’s title hopes next season. When Murray does return at some point, you’d have to imagine that he will need some time to get his legs back underneath him. Thus, it’s hard to envision him returning back to the form that he showcased in the 2020 playoffs, where he looked like an absolute superstar.
Newsflash, that’s the version of Murray the Nuggets will need if they want to hoist their first-ever title in franchise history. That, unfortunately, may not happen within the next couple of seasons, and there will be questions about the futures of Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and perhaps even Jokic down the line.
Nevertheless, with still such a young and promising core, that elusive championship is still very much attainable at some point for Denver. So, don’t lose hope Nuggets fans. Jamal Murray’s injury could be just a bump — albeit a major one — on the road to glory.