Jamal Murray has been on a mission during the playoffs this year. He’s helped lead the Denver Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, where they trail the LA Lakers 2-1. Since the first round of the playoffs, Murray has put together multiple impressive performances.
The Nuggets made the right decision in taking Murray in the 2016 NBA draft. But who were the players selected ahead of him during that draft? Let’s take a look.
Here are the players selected before Jamal Murray in the 2016 NBA draft
Murray was the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. So six NBA teams decided to choose other players instead of Murray. All six players have played or are currently on NBA teams. Only one of the six players is currently playing in the playoffs. Let’s start by taking a look at the No. 6 pick, who was Buddy Hield. The New Orleans Pelicans selected Hield, who had a standout college career at Oklahoma, where he won the John R. Wooden Award. Hield spent most of the 2016-17 season with the Pelicans and then the Pelicans traded him to the Sacramento Kings. He was named to the All-Rookie First Team. Hield has been one of the Kings top players the past two seasons. During the 2018-19 season, he averaged 20.7 points, which is a career-high.
The No. 5 overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves was Kris Dunn. Dunn was a talented guard out of Providence. He played in 78 games his rookie season, which is the most games he played in his career. After one season in Minnesota, the Timberwolves traded him to the Chicago Bulls. In his first season with the Bulls, he averaged 13.4 points, six assists, and 4.3 rebounds. The past few seasons, he has dealt with injuries that have forced him to miss some games. During the 2019-20 season, he averaged 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and two steals playing in 51 games.
The No. 4 pick was a Croatian star that the Phoenix Suns had an interest in. Dragan Bender was selected by the Suns that year. The seven-foot power forward/center spent his first three seasons with the Suns. During the 2019-20 season, he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks then later signed with the Golden State Warriors. When the season was suspended, he became a free agent and returned overseas and signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League and the EuroLeague.
The top three picks in the 2016 draft
Now let’s look at the three players that were the top three picks in the draft. The Boston Celtics had the third pick in the draft, and they decided to select Jaylen Brown. Brown was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team. He has made tremendous improvements over the past three years and has become one of Boston’s top players. In 57 games during the 2019-20 season, he averaged 20.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 blocks, which were all career-highs. He’s a big reason for the Celtics success this season, and he’ll only get better.
The Lakers had the No. 2 pick and selected Brandon Ingram out of Duke. Ingram has blossomed into a top NBA player, and he recently made his first All-Star team during the 2019-20 season with the Pelicans. Ingram spent three seasons with the Lakers and became a full-time starter during his final two seasons there. He improved tremendously from his rookie season. When he joined the Pelicans, his career took off. Along with making the All-Star for the first time, he was named the Most Improved Player as he averaged 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.
Now let’s look at the No. 1 overall pick. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons with the top pick. Simmons made an immediate impact when he entered the league. He missed the entire 2016-17 season due to an injury and came back the next year and was named the Rookie of the Year. The 6-foot-10 point guard has become an elite player and has already made two All-Star teams. He also was named to the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive First Team in 2020.
The Nuggets made the right decision selecting Jamal Murray
Murray has become a high-level point guard in the NBA. He’s showing why the Nuggets made the right move in selecting him in the draft. Murray has improved each season since his rookie year. He finished the 2019-20 season, averaging 18.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.1 steals, all career-highs. Through 17 games in the playoffs, he’s averaging 26.6 points, 6.5 assists, and five rebounds.
The Nuggets currently trail the Lakers 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals, and Murray is a big reason why the Nuggets have made it this far. Denver has come back from being down 3-1 in the first and second rounds, and Murray has put together multiple impressive performances. If Murray can continue to perform at a high-level, he will be an All-Star in no time.