Nuggets guard Jamal Murray admits that it was difficult to miss the entire 2021/22 season, including the team’s first-round playoff loss to the Warriors, while recovering from a torn ACL, but says he didn’t want to rush back and have second thoughts on the court.
“It was tough, but I just wanted to wait until I was healthy, until I could play the game without thinking about it. I didn’t want to be doing both out there, especially in the biggest time of the year for basketball,” he told Kane Pitman of ESPN during a trip to Australia. “It was smart of me to miss the playoffs and get my knee right, now I can go into the next season with a lot more confidence.”
Murray was in the midst of the best season of his career in ’20/21 prior to the injury, appearing in 48 games (35.5 MPG) while averaging 21.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.8 APG and 1.3 SPG on .477/.408/.869 shooting. He says that although his leaping ability hasn’t quite returned to the level it was pre-injury, he thinks his game has improved overall.
“I feel like I’ve gotten better in the span I’ve been out,” Murray said. “I may not jump as high right now, but I feel like I pass better, I see the game better, my pace is a little better, I shoot a little more efficiently. I’m just looking to bring all those aspects to my game, just so I can get a feel for how hard guys are going to play again, in front of crowds’ adrenaline is running a little different, loose balls are harder to get, stuff like that.”
The 25-year-old says he’s not worried about the stacked competition in the Western Conference entering next season, as the Nuggets are focused on their own goals.
“I don’t care. I don’t care what they’ve got. I know we have a great team,” he quickly responded when Pitman asked about the depth in the West. “We have a great team. Everybody knows what we can do, you’ve seen the snippets of what we can do when we’re all healthy together, so we just look forward to that. We don’t care what the Suns have and what the Lakers have, we just want to be healthy so we can do what we set out to do.”
Murray also went into more details about his rehabilitation process and what it was like both physically and mentally, as Pitman relays.
According to Roy Ward of The Age Sport (Twitter link), Murray says he plans to play during the preseason, so Denver fans won’t have to wait until the regular season tips off to see his return to action.