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Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray’s facility for floaters

Jamal Murray’s facility for floaters

In his second year for the Denver Nuggets, Jamal Murray has exhibited tremendous improvement, and his advanced floater game has been key to that development.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray’s rookie year was intriguing, but his encore has been positively tantalizing. Having improved markedly in every facet of the game, Murray’s potential seems limitless.

As a shooter, he’s displayed tremendous growth, significantly improving his 3-point percentage from 33.4 percent to 38.6 percent. He’s boosted his numbers both on catch-and-shoots and pull-ups, elevating himself from abysmal to passable on the latter and downright lethal on the former.

He’s made advancements as a finisher, seen increased success as a foul-drawer and his overall efficiency has skyrocketed, but his most impressive and important growth might be coming in his floater game.

Last year, Murray took just 9.6 percent of his shots between 3-10 feet from the basket. That interval is a pretty good proxy for “floater range.”

From floater range, Murray wasn’t particularly good. These were difficult shots, for sure, but he converted at just 35.7 percent — not ideal for a player who also experienced great difficulty in getting to the rim (just 22.6 percent of his shots attempted within three feet of the basket).

When Russell Westbrook sees daylight, he looks like he’s shot from a cannon toward the rim. Murray does not and will never possess that level of explosiveness. In fact, he’s getting to the rim even less (18 percent of his shots) than he did last year. For Murray to be a threat on drives, he needs a deadly floater game.

Rejoice, Nuggets fans, because it seems as if he’s developing one.

Murray is now attempting 16.8 percent of his shots from floater range. More importantly, his field goal percentage on such attempts is up to 47.3 percent.

Murray is a supremely skilled player with outstanding touch. Touch which allows him to gently toss the ball over the outstretched arms of help defenders:

There are countless examples of Murray lofting the ball seamlessly into the net, making extremely difficult shots look easy and natural. With how mundane he makes these shots look now, it’s hard to believe he struggled so mightily with them last year.

What’s most encouraging about Murray’s floater game is its versatility. He has a lot more than just the standard variety in his quiver:

The adaptability of Murray’s floater opens doors galore.

As he’s adept at using glass, he’s a threat to float one in from any spot on the court, any angle. Furthermore, his ability to adjust his floater’s trajectory, sometimes radically, means he needs negative space to get it off. Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe is one of the longest and peskiest guard defenders in the league. If he can’t disrupt Murray’s floater, no one can.

Jamal Murray’s year-over-year growth has been remarkable. He’s gone from a curiosity, a young player who made you say, “Yeah, he’s worth keeping an eye on,” to one you can’t take your eyes off. He’s a bona fide building block.

Key to that evolution has been the development of his floater, which not only makes Jamal Murray a threat from the perimeter, but a terror from the interior as well. As his game continues to mature, look for the savvy and skill essential to a good floater to permeate the rest of his game as he blossoms into one of the most complete scorers in the NBA.

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