Jamal Murray had hoped to play with the Nuggets in summer league, but while he’s come a long way since offseason surgery in May, he won’t. The rising second-year guard knows there’s no need to push things right now.
“At this time I don’t want to force it,” Murray said. “It’s good to be out there, working on my conditioning, how I’m moving, all of that; just get back to basketball movements.”
Murray will be 100 percent by the time Nuggets training camp starts in September. And when it does, he will be the most explosive version of Murray anyone has seen since early in his freshman season at Kentucky. He’s been practicing with the Nuggets’ summer league team this week in Denver. He’ll continue to do so in Las Vegas.
“Once I get into game shape and get my legs stronger, I’ll be a lot more explosive,” Murray said. “But right now I feel a lot better than I did before and I’m still not 100 (percent).”
Through it all, Murray still finished as a second-team All-Rookie selection last season. Asked how he was able to perform through considerable discomfort, he said, “pain threshold.”
“A lot of it is growing up with my dad, just being able to take pain and wanting to play even though I’m hurt,” Murray said. “I’ve had broken fingers and still played for Team Canada. I’ve done all of that. Just wanting to play, I think that’s my biggest attribute, just wanting to play through whatever I have to in order to go out and compete.”
But for a few weeks in May and June, Murray couldn’t compete. He had to slowly build his way back up to doing on-court work.
“The hardest part was just not being able to play,” he said. “Watching the team every day. Sometimes not even coming upstairs, just doing exercises; cold tub. Doing stuff non-basketball was the hardest part about being out for so long, not being able to be on the court with my guys and be working on my game.”
Murray finished the season strong, starting six of the last seven games at point guard. He averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds in April. Murray always said he wanted to play point guard, which he played in high school. Getting back to that during his rookie season with the Nuggets was a boost.
“I felt really good,” Murray said. “Just being on the court, knowing where shots are going to come from, knowing how we’re going to play, being able to run my team and call the plays, that was really fun. Having the coach trust in me, that means a lot. I just go out there and play my game, don’t overthink it, try to move the ball and hope I can do a better job this year.”
QUICK HITS. Nuggets first-round pick, Tyler Lydon, signed his rookie-scale contract on Thursday. As with all first-round contracts, it’s two years and two team options. … The Nuggets practiced on Thursday morning and then headed to Las Vegas. Their first game is on Friday night.