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    COLUMN: Campazzo left with big shoes to fill after horror Murray injury

    Apr 14, 2021
    PHOTO: AP
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    CHICAGO - At a sturdy 195 pounds, he stands only 5-foot-10 tall, four inches shorter than the average NBA point guard.

    And he just turned 30, which is kind of old to be a rookie in this league.

    But his brand comes with a stern label. Judge him not by the cover, or you might end up with a nasty foot-in-mouth disease.

    "I don't see how you cannot fall in love with a young guy like Facu," head coach Mike Malone told The Associated Press last November shortly after Denver signed the frisky Argentine from Real Madrid.

    Facu is Facundo Campazzo.

    Get used to his name and his game. You'll be hearing a lot from this dude in the coming months.

    Campazzo will likely be the new starting point guard as the Nuggets attempt to make sense of the indefinite absence of Jamal Murray, who was diagnosed with the torn ACL on his left knee.

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    "He is small in stature, but like I said, you can't judge him by that. You judge him by his heart - which is very, very large. And he makes plays that most people don't even think about or see," Malone added.

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    Campazzo enters the scene as a decorated European player who has appeared in two Olympics, one Basketball World Cup, and has captured two Euroleague championships.

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    Known as "The Magician" for his uncanny ability to find an open teammate and deliver the ball through impossible angles, Campazzo would need to pull every last rabbit on his bag of tricks to keep the Nuggets in title contention.

    THE SIZE 14 SHOES THE 6-FOOT-3, 215-POUND MURRAY LEFT WILL BE HARD TO FILL --- 21.2 POINTS, 4.0 REBOUNDS, 4.8 ASSISTS AND A WHOLE LOT OF MOXIE PER GAME.

    Campazzo can't do it alone, what with his meek averages of 5 points and 2.8 assists per game average through 48 outings this season, not to mention his 38.5 percent clip from the field and 37.8 percent from 3.

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    SEE ALSO

    What Campazzo can provide is the stability of a game manager who is wise and certainly old enough to function with aplomb in the big moments.

    Which is why I think that while others view Murray's prolonged absence as a window closing on Denver's title chances, I see it as a window of opportunity for the rest of the Nuggets to rally around Nikola Jokic and make another deep playoffs run.

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    Monte Morris, whom I initially thought will get the call at point, will remain a key reserve. But he will need to rise up.

    So does Michael Porter Jr.

    At last year's Orlando bubble MPJ wailed about his lack of touches and shots. This is his time to shine and wield a stouter scoring punch than the 17.3 points per than he already carries.

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    Even minus Murray, the Nuggets are still a strong team with Will Barton, Aaron Gordon, Jamychal Green, Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee.

    Some teams fold under incredible duress, others show resilience and surmount the odds.

    Which team is Denver?

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    MORE FROM SPIN

      Postscript. The timeline for rehab and recovery of an ACL tear is 12 months. This means Murray's absence will affect two seasons, this one and deep into the next.

      Some players who sustained this catastrophic injury never returned to their top form. Derrick Rose is a sad example. But others, specifically Zach LaVine and Shaun Livingston, have recovered nicely.

      The "good" thing about Murray's injury is that it happened after signing a four-year $158 million max extension. All that money is guaranteed.

      Campazzo makes only $3.6 million this season and $3.8 next season. And that makes him a cheap, capable replacement.

      We are now on Quento! Download the app on Google Play or App Store and enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.

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      PHOTO: AP
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