“The Play Of Jamal Murray, That Makes You A Championship Team”| JJ Redick Says It’s Not Only About Nikola Jokic

The Denver Nuggets are two wins away from their first NBA title. They lead the Miami Heat 2-1 in the NBA Finals. While two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has been sublime and record setting, ESPN NBA analyst JJ Redick says the play of Jamal Murray is what tips the scales and makes them a championship team.

“Nikola Jokic makes you a playoff team,” Redick said. “We’ve seen that last year. 48-34. No Jamal Murray, no Michael Porter Jr. But the play of Jamal Murray, that makes you a championship level team. Jamal Murray is on a run right now.”

You Need More Than One Player To Win A Championship

Redick is spot on. Individuals don’t win championships. Teams do.

As great as Jokic is, and he’s clearly the best player in the world, you cannot win a title in today’s NBA by yourself. You need guys that know their role, excel in their role and another high quality shot maker to go along with a perennial MVP candidate.

Murray is on a tremendous postseason run, averaging 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game on 56 eFG% and 59 TS%. All up from his regular season averages.

But here’s the thing. Murray wouldn’t be as good without Jokic either. By himself he’s a Zach LaVine caliber player. All-Star level, but a single player of that caliber isn’t enough. It’s a partnership and a relationship that allows the Nuggets to thrive and be at their best.

In Game 3 their two-man game was electric. Jokic set an on-ball screen for Murray 32 times in Game 3, tied for their most in a game this season and tied for their second-most since becoming teammates in 2016, according to Second Spectrum tracking data. And, their dribble handoff play resulted in 15 points.

A Relationship That Began Almost A Decade Ago

Their preternatural ability to read the game and know what the other is thinking goes all the way back to the spring of 2014 in Portland, Oregon. The point guard from Canada and the big man from Serbia were playing for Team World at the Nike Hoops Summit. 

“I’d say it’s a trust and a feel,” Murray said after Game 3. “That’s the best way for me to put it. It’s not really X’s and O’s. It’s just reading the game and trusting that the other is going to make the right play. If he throws it to me, he knows and expects what to see from me, and he knows the mood I’m in.

“If something is there, we go. If it’s not, we don’t force it. He makes tough shots look easy, and he’s been doing it for a very long time. I think the consistency doesn’t get talked about enough.”

Their two-man game is lethal and it’s because it can be inverted. The 1-5 pick and roll is common, but when the center can bring the ball up and be the initiator on offense with the point guard screening, that opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Jokic is the best passer in the game. Add in that he’s 7 feet tall and a mountain of a man, he can score over anybody.

Murray’s ability to snake in and out with and without the dribble and locate the cracks in the defense is elite. Add in his shot-making capability and it’s a devastating combination.

If the Nuggets win the NBA championship, Jokic will be the Finals MVP, but there will be no title without Murray.

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