Jamal Murray’s production in 9 games as a starter puts him in good company


During his rookie season with the Denver Nuggets, Jamal Murray started 9 games.
In those 9 games as a starter, he averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game in 32.9 minutes with a true shooting percentage of .519.
Using search parameters approximating those stats (>/= 12.5 pts, 4.5 ast, 2.5 reb, .500 TS%), this is the complete list of NBA guards 20 years old or younger (per Basketball-Reference.com) who had that level of production in their rookie seasons:
Murray is not, of course, on that list, as his numbers for the entire season were considerably lower (9.9 points, 2.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, .518 TS%).
So while this is not to suggest that he had nearly as impressive or impactful of a rookie season as the players above, what it does show is that, in the small 9-game sample size of his games as a starter, he was producing on a level that, if he can sustain it going forward, will put him in some fairly respectable company.
It is also worth noting, that even as his minutes and production increased as a starter, his TS% stayed constant, which is a good sign that his efficiency will likely not drop off in the larger role he will certainly have next season.

Why is Jamal Murray’s offensive rating 103 at Basketball-Reference.com but 109.1 at NBA.com/stats? Explained.


A few days ago I was perusing the data for Jamal Murray at NBA.com/stats, and noticed that his offensive rating was fifth in the NBA among all qualified bench guards, significant not only since it’s a high ranking for a rookie, but perhaps even more notably due to whose company he was in the midst of:

The Blue Arrow’s offensive rating of 109.1 (the 109.4 in my initial tweet was a typo) was fifth among bench guards, after Andre Iguodala, Eric Gordon, Patty Mills, and Manu Ginobli. Coming in next at sixth and seventh were Joe Johnson and Lou Williams. It’s a feather in Murray’s cap for him to be so solidly in the mix of this crew of veterans, all of whom have eight or more years of experience in the NBA, and play for some of the league’s best teams (as evidenced by the fact they have all advanced to their respective conference semi-finals in the playoffs).

Wanting to explore Murray’s standout offensive rating in a little more depth, I turned to Basketball-Reference.com, intending to search for a historical perspective on how many  past players (qualified with a sufficient number of games and minutes) had likewise finished their rookie campaigns with an offensive rating of 109 or higher.

The only problem was, when I looked up Jamal’s page at Basketball-Reference, they had his offensive ratingg listed as 103. I wrinkled my brow, scratched my head, and tweeted about my puzzling find:

I had noticed in the past that there had sometimes been this sort of discrepancy, but I had always chalked it up to the two sites perhaps having slightly different formulas, and, if memory serves (and it might not), this was the first time the difference was so big as to really jump out at me.

For one reason or another, probably just because I got sidetracked, I didn’t pursue the matter any further, and I expected it would likely go unresolved.

But just now I had the pleasant surprise of getting a very helpful reply from Basketball-Reference which clears the mystery up completely:

So there you have it. In basic terms, offensive rating at Basketball-Reference is an individual production stat, while the metric of the same name at NBA.com/stats is essentially a measure of team production when the player is on the court.

So in Murray’s case, the Nuggets as a whole scored 109.1 points per 100 possessions while he was on court, but Jamal himself individually produced 103 points per 100 possessions during his playing time.

Clear enough, right? Two different stats, measuring different things, but both have ended up bearing the same name. (I didn’t ask, but presumably the same difference will be found between defensive ratings at the two sites as well.)

What is less clear, to me at least, is the immensely complicated formula, which is quite a few levels above my pay grade, that Basketball-Reference uses to calculate a player’s offensive rating. For those of you who wish to brave those waters, the formula can be found here.

Many thanks to Basketball-Reference for claring up this matter, which surely would have stuck in my craw for a good long time if they hadn’t shed light on its resolution. Much appreciated!


Why Nikola Jokic is the “King of the Unicorns” – animated video by Benjamin Sterne

Benjamin Sterne asked me to share the latest creations in his “Nug Sesh” animated Denver Nuggets video series, and I am more than happy to oblige, given the fantastic quality of his work. In this release, he compares Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to the NBA’s other “unicorn” big men, and makes the case for The Joker being King of them all.

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you subscribe to Benjamin’s YouTube channel “Dr. Skipaturner Productions” here, and follow him on Twitter @BenjaminSterne here so that you can always stay on top of his latest and greatest Nuggets video work as he drops it.

So, with no further ado, enjoy!


A late live tweeting of the Apr. 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game


Since, as is often the case for me, I wasn’t able to watch the April 4 Nuggets at Pelicans game live, I live tweeted it after the fact in two installments, and that’s what follows below.


First Half

Okay, here we go. Sitting down for a delayed viewing & live tweeting of the #Nuggets at #Pelicans game. Did not stay spoiler free, though.

Nuggets open with a turnover leading to a concession dunk by AD. Get the eeling that’s not the last of those…

Gallo with the long step-back 2 and the I totally DGAF anymore hair.

Murray hits a 3 and thankfully does not do the arrow gesture. I love it at the right time – but not every time.

Jokic gets stuffed twice in a row by Davis, then ties up Boogie on the other end for a jump ball.

Murray has already passed up at least 2, maybe 3 open 3-pointers. Think he wants to play in the flow, but hesitation isn’t his game.

Jokic drives in w a crazy behind the back move and lays it in. He’s just unreal sometimes, man.

DEN fails to score on about 3-4 straight trips until a Harris tip-in. Doing a lot of stationary passing. Ball moving, players not so much.

Mudiay passes over the shoulder from the paint over to Chandler for 3, reminiscent of the passing in his SL debut.

Always a good sign when Chandler gets off to a great start, which he has in this game. Plumlee on the other end can’t stop DMC at all.

Wilson really playing aggressively now, going right at the rim on a few straight possessions. This after some made jumpers. Mixing it up.

Plumlee hardest working Nuggets on the floor through this stretch, scrapping for some tough boards. Hardest job to do on D, too w Yoke out.

Mudiay another dish out from the paint, this time to Gallo for 3. He’s looking like who we thought he was.

5:35 left in the 2nd Q. Harris fights through a screen, starting a rare solid defensive possession for Denver.

Now that it’s in the past, an unanswerable chicken/egg question: Is Mudiay playing this well *because* he spent time on the bench?

Can’t really pin down causality there, but at the very least there is precedent for the same pattern his rookie year when he got injured.

Excellent pass by Faried to Harris as he cuts to the basket.

Faried’s improvement in passing this season is one of the most visible examples of the transmutative power of the Jokic effect.

Davis drives around the elbow screen to the basket, and the seas part.

Jokic threads the needle as Harris cuts again. Denver’s bread and butter.

Was tied 65-65 w/ ~2:30 left in the half, but NOP closes w/ a 10-4 run to go up 75-69 at the break. Seventy. Five.

But since it’s past 3 in the morning, gotta catch a few winks. Will have to do the second half sometime later, hopefully tomorrow, but…

Will miss HOU as well, so probably I’ll delayed live tweet that first b4 finishing the 2nd half of the Pels game. Sorry if it’s confusing.


Second Half

I only got through the 1st half of “live” tweeting the #Nuggets @ Pelicans last night, so I’m gonna finish it now b4 moving onto Houston

And then after watching HOU tomorrow, I’ll be all caught up before the Pelicans rematch. (Hopefully.) Wish I could watch it all live.

So, here goes, 2nd half of the Apr. 4 DEN @ NOP game…

Murray w/ a great pass on the drive to Plumlee who cuts for the dunk. Good for them to be developing good chemistry.

After Jokic ties it up w/ a bizarre shot off the glass from the high post, Plumlee hits a floater in the lane to put DEN up 87-85.

I doubt Plumlee will ever have range beyond 3 feet, but if he developed even a semi-reliable floater/hook in the lane, that would help.

Harris with a great spin move in the lane for the layup. He just keeps getting craftier in finding creative ways of getting to the rim.

Murray in transition w a jump pass at the arc right into 3 Pels, turns it over, easy layup the other way for Jrue.

Can’t wait to see Murray after SL & training camp next season, reducing rook mistakes, hitting the open 3s he’s missing now. Big leap ahead.

One of those stretches: DEN getting the looks they want, but shots not falling, and can’t stop anything the other way. NOP back up 5.

lol Gallo WAY off to the left on a 3 to end the 3rd but it banks in. I’m sure later he said he meant to do that. Brings DEN w/in 3.

Gallo to Mudiay, wide open catch-and-shoot 3. He’s .356 on C&S 3s on 2.3 3ptA/G this season, up from .343 on 2.0 3ptA/G last year.

Boogie torpedoes the entry pass into Crawford for the layup. He’s no Jokic, but he’s a really good passer.

Mudiay nails another open C&S 3, but Cousins answers right back w/ a 3 of his own. Then Harris 2, Harris steal, Murray 2, DEN on a run.

Mudiay to Gallo for 3 this time, his 7th dime, Nuggs go up 9 w/ 6:53 remaining. Got 3 consecutive stops by my count – an all too rare sight.

All of Mudiay, Murray, and Harris playing so well in this game, it’s hard to justify (even if healthy) why Malone started Jameer vs HOU.

With Nuggets up 5 w/ just under 3 min left, Harris banks in a huge 3 off a Jokic screen. Marlowe says “Oh, yeah!”

Refs bail out Gallo, who goes to the line & puts Nuggets up 7 with 1:26 remaining.

Meanwhile (and perhaps more interestingly), Malone off to the side has the ear of Murray, who listens attentively.

Which is another of the many reasons to believe Murray is set for a big jump next season: His attentiveness, his drive to get better.

Boogie answers with another huge 3 to cut Denver’s lead back to 4 with 1:17 remaining.

I know the outcome of this game, but it’s still pretty exciting and fun to watch how it unfolds…

Just under 40 seconds left, Jokic makes 1 of 2 FTs after a Davis oop, 131-128 Denver.

Gallo gets duped into no-man’s land, Boogie left wide open for the 3, ties it up. Nuggets fans must’ve been thinking “here we go again…”

Just like against Miami (twice? three times?) Nuggets can’t inbound, have to call time out. Maybe put this on the docket for training camp?

Wilson gets to the line, drawing a foul on Boogie on the drive, misses the first, sinks the second, Nuggets up 1 w/ 18.2 on the clock.

Like Chandler, Mudiay makes one of two FTs after being fouled on the inbound play. Nuggets use last foul to give, up 2, 9.3 left.

And there it is, Harris game-winning steal, DEN holds on to win. Unlikely, but if they make the playoffs, one of the season’s biggets plays.

And that’s all she wrote. Tomorrow, catching up with the Houston game if I have the intestinal fortitude to do so.



It’s not too late for the Nuggets to improve their draft position by tanking hard

Denver Nuggets v Oklahoma City Thunder

Although the Denver Nuggets have not yet been mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, their road to the postseason has now become so implausible as to be nearly insurmountable.

After the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the tanking Phoenix Suns yesterday, extending their current winning streak to six games, they are now a full two games ahead of Denver in the standings, though that number is effectively three, as the Blazers hold the tiebreaker between the two teams. With just six games remaining for Portland, and seven for Denver, this means that any combination of Nuggets losses and Blazers wins totaling four will officially end Denver’s postseason aspirations.

And realistically, though some Nuggets fans are still holding onto that last sliver of hope, it is now a near certainty that Portland, and not Denver, will clinch the 8th seed in the Western Conference. This point is unambiguously driven home by FiveThirtyEight’s NBA forecast, which gives the Blazers a 99 percent chance, and the Nuggets a mere 1 percent chance, of making the final cut.

The silver lining for the Nuggets, however, is that it is not too late to meaningfully improve their draft position by tanking. Let’s first take a look at the current draft standings as presented by Tankathon.com:


As you can see, the Nuggets are currently near the bottom of the draft lottery, in 13th place. Importantly, however, they share the same total of 35 wins with the two teams in 12th and 11th, the Charlotte Hornets and the Detroit Pistons.

Additionally, the Nuggets have two more games with the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently in 10th place in the lottery standings with 33 wins – which just happens to be two less than Denver.


What this all adds up to is that if the Nuggets lose out the remainder of their last seven games, and finish with a 35-47 record, they can do no worse than finish in a four-way tie for 10th. The Pelicans, however, are not tanking, having won their last two games and seven of their last 10. And while Detroit and Charlotte both have fairly brutal closing schedules, it seems unlikely that both teams would finish the season without at least one single win.

So if the Nuggets do finish 0-7, they have a very good chance of climbing from 13th to 11th or even 10th in the draft lottery standings. And while even a jump to 10th would only improve their odds of landing a top three pick from 2.2 percent to 4 percent, the difference between the best player available at 10 and 13 could very well be quite significant.

When the Nuggets continue their five-game road trip at the Miami Heat tonight, Jameer Nelson and Will Barton will both be out, and as the Denver Post’s Nick Kosmider reports, Denver has called back Malik Beasley from the D-League, and he along with Emmanuel Mudiay are both expected to see “extensive” minutes:

This opens up what may be the Nuggets’ last best chance to finish the season with a positive outcome by tanking the rest of the way out, and thereby increasing their chances of landing a player this summer who can truly make an impact as part of Denver’s young core of the future.



Reliving the pain: A late “live” tweeting of the 3/20 Nuggets at Rockets game


I’m posting this late because I just finished it. I watched the first half before the March 22nd Cavs game, and the second half after. Although it’s one of the worst losses and most difficult pills to swallow of this season, it is also an important moment in shaping the development of this young team, who bounced back and responded exceptionally well by trouncing Cleveland in the following game.


Okay, sitting down now to watch the replay of the last #Nuggets game (loss in Houston). I’ll be “live” tweeting it. Bracing for the pain.

Perhaps this tiime it’s fortunate that I already know the result. Tomorrow I’ll be doing the same w/ Cavs game, but spoiler free if I can.

I do know the score to this one, so I won’t feel the shock, though I’m sure I’ll feel the frustration. But I don’t know the details well.

Okay, here we go, opening tip goes to the Rockets, Harden misses the 3 after Plumlee switches onto him, Harris drives in for the layup.

Houston getting to the rim pretty easily on some possessions. Seems like a no-brainer that the Nuggets need better rim protection but…

…when they’re doing such a poor job of denying at the perimeter, we got sort of a chicken/egg situation.

Rockets go up 12-6 early on a Harden steal, Malone wants to put the brakes on it and calls time out.

Jokic rightfully has gotten the lion’s share of the limelight this season, but Harris is really emerging as such a complete player.So good.

Nuggets continue switching Plumlee onto Harden, with mostly not-great results.

This Rockets announcer guy: “Why would you want to call yourself Yokic, and not Jokic? Because you wouldn’t call yourself the Yoker.”

“If you didn’t like the Yoker, what would that be, egg whites or something?” Are these words really coming out of this dude’s mouth?

Another turnover for Jokic. Whenever he gets doubled, the Nuggets seems to always have 4 guys loaded up over on the weak side.

Gotta do a better job of sending help his way so he has better options to pass out of the double.

Nuggets sloppy with the ball here in the 1st. Out of the timeout Jamal immediately turns it over. Ariza steal and dunk. Bad look.

9 points off turnovers already with about 2 min left in 1st Q. Malone must have been superfly TNT.

Nuggets close the gap from (iirc) 12 to 7 to end the 1st. They might survive bad defense OR too many turnovers vs good teams. But not both.

I’m still catching up after being out of town. Is Malone actually trying to fold Mudiay back into the rotation, or is it just bc injuries?

This Jokic-Juancho-Barton-Mudiay-Murray lineup putting together a huge run for the Nuggets. Feels counterintuitive to me.

Trying to pinpoint reason why I feel like that lineup should be less effective than it has. Think it’s having both Barton & Mudiay in it.

Barton hacked by Gordon, no call. Mudiay hacked by Gordon, they get it right the 2nd time. And Emmanual sinks both his FTs.

Mudiay has actually looked really solid in this game. Are we seeing this season’s episode of a better Mudiay emerging after a hiatus?

Was this our first time to see this #Nuggets lineup of the future this season? Off the top of my head, I think maybe so.

If Nuggets players as much as fart in the general vicinity of Harden he gets the whistle.

Overall a pretty great 2nd quarter from Denver, especially by their young bench unit. Tons of promise in the #Nuggets’ future.

Unfortunately, it’s just after 3 a.m. and I’m just a primate who requires sleep to function, so I’ll have to save the 2nd half for later.

I never finished watching/live tweeting the 2nd half of the 3/20 #Nuggets @ #Rockets game. So bc I’m a glutton for punishment, here goes…

I know it’s a few days late, so apologies in advance if it causes confusion. But this is my chance to get caught up b4 the Indy game.

Nuggets start the 2nd half with the ball, 3 points up on the Rockets. Both teams start off cold, only scoring on 1 of about 5 possessions.

Jokic, taking  scoring initiative, gets Capela in foul trouble & D’Antoni sends in Nene. But Jokic scores on post-up w/ Anderson on him.

Harris w/ a great drive & floater for the and-1 chance. Ryan Anderson, maybe the NBA’s most egregious flopper now, flails on the ground.

Halfway through the 3rd quarter, both teams keeping apace of each other, Nuggets maintaining their 3-point halftime lead.

After going up by 5, Nuggets leave Ariza wide open in the corner, and his 3 caps a 7-2 HOU run that ties up the game. Malone calls time.

Harden loves getting bigs switched onto him. Abused Juancho earlier, froze up Plumlee on a drive just now. Little they can do to stop him.

And Harden gets Juancho switched onto him again, makes a nice fake to create space, sinks the 3.

Murray hits a big 3 from 4-5 feet behind arc to tie it back up. His execution on it’s still inconsistent, but he’s got that killer instinct.

D’Antoni absolutely screaming at the refs when Harden gets called for a foul on Murray after pretty much bear hugging him from behind.

D’Antoni absolutely screaming at the refs when Harden gets called for a foul on Murray after pretty much bear hugging him from behind.

Okay here we go, start of the 4th quarter of the 3/20 Nuggets at Rockets game. Dreading what comes next. #couragemerry #courageforourfriends

Jameer over-dribbling gets a ton of hate. But let’s be honest, Jamal does it pretty often, too. Eg 1 min into the 4th between Gordon’s 2 3s.

That’s not to say expectations shouldn’t be higher for Jameer as vet (they should) or that value of Jamal getting time isn’t higher (it ist)

Which doesn’t answer the strategic/philosophical question of development vs win now, but maybe Jameer gets a worse rap than merited.

But I do think it’s fair to say that expecting better outcomes *right now* by playing Jamal over Jameer could also result in disappintment.

After a loose ball scramble resulting in Mudiay fouling Beverly, the latter hits a big 3-pointer & HOU goes up 3, crowd goes wild.

9:50 left in the 4th, Murray gets ball at arc w 10 sec left on shot clock, dribbles back nearly to half court, then…

…runs the clock down to 4 seconds without moving the ball, and takes a 3 from about 8 feet beyond the arc.

I love Murray as much as any Nuggets fans, all I’m saying is maybe before bashing Jameer too badly, be cognizant he does this stuff, too.

The Rockets had gone up 6, but Nuggets go on 5-1 run as Harris hits a 3 to close the lead to 2 – and get his career high 28 points.

Harden’s ability to switch speeds multiple times when driving to the rim never stops being impressive.

Just >3 min left, Juancho switches onto Harden at the elbow. Actually does a solid job staying in front of him, beard sinks the j anyhow.

Jokic gets the ball in the low post, gets doubled, powers in for the layup anyhow.

Refs correctly reverse offensive goaltending call on Juancho, Nuggets close to within 2 w/ 1:41 remaining.

Glad I already know the results of this one so I can avoid falling into the trap of getting my hopes up.

Harden & Barton trade 3s, Nene turns it over, Barton floats it in, and completes the 3-point play to put DEN up 1 w 42.1 left.

At this point I believe it is incumbent upon me to provide a trigger warning for those of you who may find reliving this moment too painful.

Annnd there’s that very terrible horrible ending I’ve heard so much about. Yep – bad as advertised, in just about every possible way.

Jameer should definitely have gotten the ball to Jokic early in the possession. That was a massive mistake for sure.

That should be a hard and steadfast rule for the Nuggets in game-on-line situations: A.G.J. Always Get it to Jokic.

And letting Harden go coast to coast is inexcusable, as was the final ATO play (whether or not it was run as drawn up). Ugh.

Well, that’s it. All caught up now & ready to get about 4 hours sleep before the Pacers game, which will hopefully have a happieer ending.