Denver Nuggets

What Jamal Murray can learn from Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry

Jamal Murray (NBA Getty Images)

What makes Stephen Curry one of the more unique players we've ever seen in the NBA is that he's just as comfortable playing without the ball in his hands as he is playing with the ball in his hands. Being able to do both at a historic level is a huge luxury for the Golden State Warriors because, unlike most primary creators, Curry doesn't have to dominate possessions to make his presence felt on offence.

There aren't many point guards around the league who have the potential to do both of those things at an equally high rate, but one of them hails from Canada: Denver Nuggets rising star Jamal Murray.

To Murray's credit, he's already proven that he can thrive off-ball next to Nikola Jokic. He was one of the league's more efficient shooters in catch-and-shoot situations in 2017-18 and he ranked near the top of the league in scoring efficiency off of screens with an impressive 1.22 points per possession.

The latter put him in the same bracket as some of the best shooters in the league, such as Kevin Durant, JJ Redick, Kyle Lowry and - you guessed it - Stephen Curry.

The problem is Murray averaged only 1.5 points per game off of screens, which, for someone who scored as efficiently as he did on those plays, was incredibly low.

For comparison, Curry finished second only to his fellow Splash Brother last season with an average of 5.0 points per game off of screens. He also finished near the top of the league in 2016-17, trailing Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, JJ Redick and Paul George with 4.0 points per game.

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Murray wouldn't be the only one who would stand to benefit from him running off of screens with greater frequency either. Curry might be undersized compared to other players at his position, but he's developed into one of the most effective screeners in the league because of how terrified defenders are of leaving him open.

Even if the person he is screening for is a four-time scoring champion in Kevin Durant, Curry's defender will rarely leave him out of fear that he'll break free for a 3-pointer. A knockdown shooter himself, it's not hard to imagine Murray striking a similar level of fear in defenders when operating as a screener.

Murray, of course, has plenty of time to develop this part of his game. The 21-year-old is only two years removed from being selected with the No. 7 pick in the NBA Draft - the same pick the Warriors drafted Curry with in 2009 - and he's still in the infancy of his development. Based on how much he's already improved since the Nuggets drafted him, Denver has one of the more intriguing young prospects in the league.

Just don't be surprised if having to chase Curry around screens for 30-plus minutes on Sunday motivates him to make it a bigger part of his own game sooner rather than later.

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