With his penchant for hitting shots right out of viral trick-shot videos and his ability to heat up in a hurry, Jamal Murray is fast becoming one of the rising stars of the NBA.
Jamal Murray’s path to the NBA is an interesting one. The Denver Nuggets’ starlet is rarely the first name on the list when we think about international players, having successfully assimilated his game into the NBA style of play. It is only during events like the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game, where the Canadian will suit up for the World Team, that his unique background comes to mind.
This turn of events would come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Murray’s career since his days as a high school prospect. Despite his unmistakeable talent and a host of top American high schools clamouring for his enrolment, Murray chose to stay in Canada in a strong show of national pride. Along with a generation of other top Canadian prospects, the youngster wanted to strengthen basketball within his country by developing its infrastructure to allow competition with the American schools.
Teaming up with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Thon Maker, Murray led his hometown Orangeville Prep to surprising wins over top programmes in the States. His AAU involvement was no different, as he joined the famed CIA Bounce to solidify their reputation as the prime Canadian basketball factory, with fellow NBA talents such as Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Dillon Brooks and Tyler Ennis among their alumni.
For the next step of his journey, the shooting guard decided to explore the other end of the spectrum, heading to Lexington, Kentucky to play for collegiate basketball’s blue bloods, the Kentucky Wildcats. After an impressive freshman season teaming up with Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe to form a fearsome three-man backcourt, Murray was drafted in the lottery by the Denver Nuggets.
In his rookie season, the 6-foot-4 guard had to wait his turn. Displaying the same single-minded focus he shows in hitting his wide array of difficult shots, honed through years of meditative practice, Murray turned the fourth quarter into his own personal showcase. At times, he took to the floor with the game seemingly out of reach, but turned the game around with his ability to hit trick-shots of every nature, from twisting scoop shots to off-balance bombs from deep. Each shot endeared him in the hearts of fans from the Mile High City, crowned by his trademark arrow-shooting celebration. Having now earned his spot in the rotation for the Denver Nuggets, the 20-year-old has his sights set on his next trick: becoming a perennial NBA All-Star.
Article written by Wong Chin Yi. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the NBA.