The news that Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL is devastating not only for Murray and the Denver Nuggets, but for Canada’s Olympic qualifying hopes as well.
The Athletic reported Tuesday that Murray suffered the injury on Monday against the Warriors.
Murray, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, is averaging 21.2 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds for the Nuggets, currently the No. 4 seed in the West.
With Murray likely to miss the remainder of the season, the Nuggets will face an uphill climb in terms of repeating last summer’s run to the Western Conference Finals where they lost to LeBron James and the Lakers in five games. Murray averaged 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 19 playoff games.
But his absence also has implications for the Canadian National Team as it enters Olympic qualifying in Victoria, British Columbia June 29-July 4 . The winner of the event which also features China, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Uruguay and Greece (coached by Rick Pitino) will receive one of four remaining berths in the men’s Olympic basketball tournament this summer in Tokyo. Canada hasn’t made the Olympics since 2000, when current Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash was the team’s star.
This year there were 17 Canadian players on opening-night NBA rosters, including players like Murray, Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Miami’s Kelly Olynyk and R.J. Barrett of the Knicks. Wiggins hasn’t played for Canada since 2015, while Gilgeous-Alexander, who, like Murray, attended Kentucky, has been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
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“We got an all-N.B.A. team,” Barrett said last month, per The New York Times.
Canada still has a lot of talent, but the loss of Murray is brutal blow for the team’s qualifying hopes.