Denver Nuggets Get Steal with Murray at 7


Written by Christopher Dempsey at Denver Post.com

The Nuggets had a list of priorities going into the offseason. The need blazing like a bright neon sign within their Pepsi Center offices was a lack of shooting. The Nuggets finished 26th in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season.

Their draft Thursday night ensured they won’t repeat that next season. At least they did everything they could for history not to repeat itself.

“Our shooting was a big concern,” Nuggets GM Tim Connelly said. “When you look at the skill set of some of the guys we got this evening it helps us in a positive manner.”

The Nuggets used their three first-round draft picks on players who can shoot from deep, led by Kentucky shooting guard Jamal Murray. At No. 15, the Nuggets selected Juan Hernangomez, a shooting power forward from Spain. With the 19th pick in the draft, the Nuggets selected 6-5 shooting guard Malik Beasley of Florida State.

Combined, the three made 201 3-pointers, shooting 39.3 percent for their respective teams during their seasons.

Murray made 113 of them.

He was the big prize of the night. The Nuggets thought so much of him that they had him third on their draft board behind Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram.

“I knew they liked me, but I didn’t know they liked me as much as they did,” said Murray, who shot 40.8 percent from 3-point range for Kentucky last season.

He’s best in catch-and-shoot situations off of screens, a skill that translates immediately in the NBA. Murray was a sizzling 58 percent shooter off screens at Kentucky.

But he projects as much more than just a catch-and-shoot player. Murray has the ability to get to the rim and finish with either hand. He projects as the kind of player that will be a 20-or-more-per-game scorer in the NBA once he gets a foothold in the league. He’ll come in and immediately compete with veteran Gary Harris for the starting shooting guard spot, although he said he’d like to handle the ball as well.

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