After tearing his ACL in April of last year, Jamal Murray was forced to miss the entire 2021-22 NBA season. Despite various rumors hinting that the star guard could make a healthy return before the end of the regular season, Denver Nuggets fans haven’t seen Blue Arrow in action in over a full calendar year.
Following a season in which Denver finished with 48 wins and qualified for the playoffs as a six seed, all off the backs of reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, and role players Aaron Gordon, Will Barton and Monte Morris. It’s easy for residents of the Mile High City to get excited over the inevitable return of one Jamal Murray.
When we last saw Murray in a Denver Nuggets uniform, he was averaging career-highs in points (21.2), assists (4.8), steals (1.3) and minutes per game (35.5) with .477/.408/.869 shooting splits. Easily cementing himself as the franchise’s second superstar alongside The Joker.
Even though both Murray and the Nuggets have been relatively tight-lipped over the last few months regarding his injury status and when he’ll be returning to the lineup. It looks like he could be ready for action sooner than expected given recent reports.
Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray injury update
April 12, 2021 – The Initial Injury
Let’s take things all the way back to the day it all began. On April 12, 2021, Jamal Murray was set to make his return in a game against the Golden State Warriors after missing the previous four games with right knee soreness.
His performance throughout the game wasn’t anything too abnormal, as he still managed to put up 17 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Although, he did shoot a measly 5 for 15 from the field and 1 for 5 from long range, so, it was clear that the right knee was still bothering him, at least to a certain degree.
Then, late in the fourth quarter, Murray suffered a non-contact injury on a fast break and was later deemed out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. To make matters worse, there was no timetable for his return, as he remained out indefinitely.
February – March, 2022 – News Leaks of Murray’s Return
Fast forward a year later, multiple reports emerge that Jamal Murray could be back on the court sooner than expected. Generally speaking, ACL injuries take around one year to fully recover, so, a rough estimate had him pegged to return between March and April of 2022.
Although, the hype really started to mount in February, when The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Murray could be back in time for the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Which were set to begin on Saturday, April 16, almost exactly one year after Murray’s injury.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, as made evident by Mike Singer of The Denver Post on March 12, 2022. Who reported that two league sources had informed him that “no return is assured this season,” and that his chances of returning are “50-50 at this point.”
Then just over a week later on March 20, 2022, Singer reported on Twitter that head coach Michael Malone had been quoted saying that Jamal Murray is “not close” to playing in any games at this point in time, just less than a month before the start of the postseason.
Finally, with less than two weeks left in the 2021-22 NBA regular season, Singer did some further investigating and quoted Malone saying the following.
"“We have no idea where the finish line is,” Malone said. “Until we have a better idea of that, let’s leave all options on the table and see what happens on a day-to-day basis.”"
April 9, 2022 – Shams Confirms No Return
Just one week before the start of the NBA playoffs and almost one full year following Murray’s injury, The Athletic’s Shams Charania took to Twitter to confirm what many had assumed for some time. Announcing that Jamal Murray would not only miss the Nuggets’ season finale against the Los Angeles Lakers but was also unlikely to return at any point in the playoffs.
What confused many of us is that less than a week after Shams made this announcement, Tim Connelly said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Murray came back in the playoffs against the Warriors. Although, obviously, this didn’t come to fruition as Nuggets’ fans went over a full year without seeing their star guard in action.
May 24, 2022 – Murray Commits to Team Canada
Following the news that Jamal Murray wouldn’t be featured in the Denver Nuggets rotation until at least next season, it was difficult to gauge the situation. On the one hand, it’s good that the franchise doesn’t feel the need to rush him back into the lineup if he’s not ready physically or mentally. On the other hand, a lot can change in a year and that’s the last time anybody saw Murray play.
So, when the Blue Arrow committed to play for Team Canada over the course of the next three years, including the potential of competing in the summer qualifiers as early as this summer, it was an exciting moment, to say the least.
Canada held their summer qualifiers from June 30th to July 4th and Murray was revealed as a member of the national team’s roster just prior to the event on June 27th, 2022. Even though he didn’t end up playing in any of the games, he did compete in practice sessions and was spotted on the court for the first time in over a year.
July 6, 2022 – Murray Hits the Court at Summer League
As if seeing Jamal Murray on the hardwood wasn’t enough to bring joy to Nuggets nation, he then joined in with the Summer League practices less than two weeks later. Where there was actual footage of him playing full-strength scrimmage against the team’s young rookies.
Not only did Jamal Murray show up at the gym to support his Denver Nuggets teammates, but he even competed in some pretty heavy five-on-five runs with the team, as noted by Michael Malone during his media day press conference later that day.
"“Jamal was able to play some five-on-five yesterday,” Malone said. “That was probably the most serious five-on-five he’s played since he tore his ACL in Golden State. I love seeing him on the court, his confidence and working back to being the Jamal Murray we all know he can be.”"
Chances are that Malone will ease him back into the rotation nest season before ramping him up to full speed, but the fact that Murray’s already back on the court at Summer League is a welcome sight for all Nuggets fans.
July 22, 2022 – Murray Speaks Out For First Time Since Injury
After weeks of seeing Jamal Murray back in action, we still had yet to hear him speak out since recovering from the injury. That is until just a few days ago when he spoke to HoopsHype at a New Balance event at a local Boys & Girls club in Las Vegas. Discussing his entire journey over the last year and a half.
"“It’s been a learning experience and a test of patience,” Murray said. “Everything happens for a reason. I learned a lot, and I’m excited to be back out there.”"
He was also asked about what he brings to the team and what the future holds next season.
"“A championship mindset, a winning attitude and raising everybody’s level of play,” Murray said. “That’s what I do best.”"
Fast forward to now, July 24, and it looks like things are finally heading into the right direction for Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets. He’s already got some valuable reps in with Team Canada as well as the Nuggets’ Summer League squad, and Denver’s training camp is set to tip-off in the coming weeks.
Meaning that he’ll have a full offseason and training camp to ramp things up before the start of the 2022-23 NBA season, so, I imagine he’ll be back to his old ways in no time. Plus, with the loss of Monte Morris, there’s a good chance we see Murray take on an expanded role with the Denver Nuggets next season, and explode back onto the scene when the time comes.