The Denver Nuggets have never won an NBA title or even a Western Conference championship. They had a realistic shot of doing both this season, especially after the trade addition of Aaron Gordon, but that all went down in a heap Monday night when second-leading scorer Jamal Murray suffered a serious-looking knee injury at Golden State. On Tuesday, the team confirmed it was a season-ending torn ACL. The SportsLine Projection Model has thus severely downgraded Denver's chances of winning the West and a championship as have William Hill Sportsbook oddsmakers.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone might have some serious questions to answer. Why, for example, was Murray in Monday night's game in the final minute when it was a rout and he had just returned from a four-game injury absence with soreness in his right knee? To be fair, the ACL injury is to Murray's left knee.
Murray is second on the team in averaging 21.2 points per game while shooting 47.7 percent overall and 40.8 percent from deep. Denver had a net rating of plus-8.0 with Murray on the court this season and minus-2.7 without -- he had been battling injuries all year.
He was also brilliant in the Orlando bubble last summer in helping lead the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals, a six-game loss to the Lakers, as Murray averaged 26.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in the playoffs. Not only is Murray's 2020-21 season over, but he will surely miss a chunk of next season, too.
Keep in mind that Denver traded another former starting guard, Gary Harris, to Orlando last month in the Gordon deal so the team is now thin in the backcourt. Facundo Campazzo likely will move back into the starting lineup with Monte Morris playing a key role off the bench. Expect the Nuggets to sign someone like free-agent Austin Rivers as well.
The Nuggets (34-20) currently sit fourth in the West, so they are going to make the playoffs regardless. William Hill Sportsbook has dropped them from +800 to +1500 to win the conference and +1600 to +3000 to win the NBA title following the Murray injury.
The SportsLine Projection Model (see below), meanwhile, drops Denver from 45.0 regular-season wins in the shortened 72-game schedule to 43.8. The Nuggets' chances of winning the West fell from 10.2 percent to 5.9 and of winning the NBA title from 5.2 percent to 2.7.
|Murray Out Season||43.8||60.80%||99.00%||5.90%||2.70%|
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it has returned almost $9,100 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. The model is up more than $1,100 on its top-rated picks this season, and dating back to last year, it enters Week 17 of the 2020-21 NBA schedule on a stunning 95-59 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread. Anybody who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.