Jamal Murray leaves game after rolling ankle Thursday, now short of NBA's 65-game rule

The Denver Nugget take on the Miami Heat at Ball Arena
The Denver Nugget take on the Miami Heat at Ball Arena

It was an unfortunate play. In the second quarter against Miami on Thursday, Jamal Murray drove to the rim, drew the defense, and then kicked the ball back to Nikola Jokic for the easy 13-foot bucket. However, as Murray landed and turned, he stepped on Aaron Gordon's foot, rolled his ankle, and went to the ground in pain. He tried to get up and walk it off, sat back down, and soon left the game not to return.

While the comments of coach Michael Malone didn't make things sound too serious, it is usually the next day before the severity of an ankle sprain is known. The Nuggets have yet to say anything but Murry is officially questionable for Saturday against the Lakers.

Murray played 14 minutes in that game, less than 15, which officially would leave him short of the NBA's new 65-game mandate for postseason awards. Under this rule (a negotiated part of the CBA, the players signed off on this), a player can miss 17 games, but the 18th makes them ineligible. However, a player can play in 63 and qualify if they played at least 15 minutes in two others. Murray has straight-up missed 16 games, but after leaving the game against the Heat he has now also had two more games where he didn't reach the 15-minute mark due to injuries. By the letter of the law, this makes him ineligible.

Denver could appeal that if Murray plays in every remaining Nuggets game, but it feels like that will not matter (whether or not he plays Saturday against the Lakers). Maybe no player in the league makes the leap from "he's good in the regular season" to "he's a superstar in the playoffs" like Murray, but the argument that Murray belongs on an All-NBA team or deserves another award like that based on his play this regular season is a tough one. Murray is averaging 20.5 points a game, shooting 42.3% from 3 and dishing out 6.3 assists this season — borderline All-Star numbers, just not All-NBA (top 15 player in the league) level.