Eager to meet his new teammates and itching for some competition, there was Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray back in the gym, raising the level of intensity of everyone around him.
Murray, who missed all of last season while recovering from his ACL tear, participated in parts of Tuesday’s practice with the Nuggets’ Summer League team, including some of the live action. He, Bones Hyland and Davon Reed were all there, taking on various college prospects with dreams of landing on an NBA roster.
Perhaps it was Murray’s presence that drew governor Stan Kroenke to the practice court on Tuesday.
According to Summer League head coach Ryan Bowen, Murray was there on his own accord and wanted to keep playing even for the portion of the practice that was open to the media. Though that didn’t happen, the reviews on Murray’s movements were all positive.
His mere presence had a palpable impact on the atmosphere.
“It’s huge,” Bowen said. “You got Jamal Murray playing with our Summer League guys. … Everyone wants to watch him play. The guys want to watch him play.”
Bowen said Murray participated in non-contact drills Monday that immediately ratcheted up the competitiveness.
“It was great to see him out there,” Bowen said.
“I love it, I absolutely love it,” said forward Matt Mitchell. “I just love the high level of competition. Being able to guard guys that have offensive games that are deep in their bag. … Iron sharpens iron. I’m going out there trying to compete.”
Murray was there, according to Bowen, to meet his new teammates, including first-round picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, and two-way guard Collin Gillespie.
According to Michael Porter Jr.’s brother, Jontay, whose knee injuries sidelined him the past season but is back with the Nuggets’ Summer League team, Murray’s agility is coming along.
“He looked great,” Porter said. “His jumper is as amazing as ever. He’s moving really well, too, especially coming from a guy who’s had ACL injuries as well.”
Jontay, 22, said he spent the last year working on his body and gauging how much he wanted to play through injuries. During his one year in Memphis (2020-2021), Jontay said he wasn’t able to show all that he was capable of, due to both injury and opportunity.
But back in Missouri recently with Mike, Jontay said the two played 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 as both worked themselves back into game shape. Jontay said his goal is to prove he’s healthy and show teams he still has a desire to play. With a healthy knee ahead of Friday’s Summer League opener, he said it wanted to “give it one more go.”
As for his brother, Jontay’s assessment is that the Nuggets’ forward looks healthy after missing the majority of last season following back surgery.
“Mike looks great,” Jontay said and cited his brother as one of the driving forces in getting him back in the gym this past season.
Part of Jontay’s rehab process included yoga and strength training. He said he didn’t touch a ball for six months. Asked if he ever did yoga with Mike, Jontay confirmed they did.
“We do,” he said with a smile. “He’s not very flexible.”