One of the Denver Nuggets’ worst nightmares has come true.
An MRI revealed that Nuggets star point guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will be out indefinitely, the team announced on Tuesday.
The Canadian picked up the injury during the waning moments of an eventual 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. With just over 50 seconds left and his team down 111-104, the Blue Arrow drove to the cup and suffered what looked like a non-contact injury, which is nearly always a very bad sign.
The Kentucky alumnus attempted to split the Warriors defense on the drive and when he landed, he instantly fell into a heap on the ground, clutching at his left knee and pounding the hardwood in pain and frustration.
Head coach Michael Malone rushed out to his franchise point guard and immediately called for additional medical attention. The staff eventually brought a wheelchair over for Murray, but he decided to forego that luxury and instead hobbled off to the locker room with the help of a couple of staffers as he refrained from putting any weight on the injured leg.
This injury all but ends the 24-year-old’s 2020-2021 season and also puts his status for next season in doubt as well. Though the medical field has made leaps and bounds in the repair of ACLs over the years, these injuries are still very serious and how guys come back from them can be a real crapshoot.
In the nearer future, the loss of their second-best player (behind MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, obviously) makes Denver’s title aspirations a lot less realistic. They had been on an absolute roll, winning 17 of 20 games before dropping their last two straight, including that defeat to the Dubs.
They had looked especially dangerous since picking up Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline in a deal with the Orlando Magic, with Gordon winning his first seven straight games with his new team.
Then Murray’s right knee began to feel strange. He was held out of four straight games—three of which his team won—with what the team called ‘right knee soreness’ before making his return on Monday.
He looked alright during the first 47 minutes of the game, contributing 17 points, four dimes, four boards, three steals, and a block in 33 minutes of game action. It remains unclear, however, if the right knee soreness had any effect on Murray, perhaps forcing him to put more pressure on the left knee that ended up buckling.
With Murray, a flier on the Nuggets’ long-shot odds to win the NBA Championship seemed like a fun bet to make, but after the Murray injury, even putting money on their +1,000 NBA odds to win just the Western Conference seems like throwing money away.
Murray had already missed a couple of games due to nagging injuries before this recent spell of absences, but he still managed to put up 21.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 triples, and 1.3 steals per game on a 45/37/89 shooting line through 48 appearances.
Those are solid numbers, but not as impressive after you look at the way he broke out in the bubble last fall to the tune of 26.5 points, 6.5 helpers, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 triples, and 0.9 steals per game on really impressive shooting efficiency, firing at a 47 percent clip from the floor, 41 from downtown, and 90 from the charity stripe.
Facundo Campazzo, who started in place of Murray while he was out last week, will likely slide back into that role for the rest of the season. Monte Morris will see a lot more run as the backup point guard, and Will Barton will likely take on a more prominent role in the offensive scheme as well.