Why Carmelo Anthony is partly responsible for Jamal Murray's NBA Finals MVP candidacy

In 2011, it was impossible to predict what the Denver Nuggets’ future would be when they traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.

Anthony, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, was one of the league’s preeminent talents. Whatever haul the Nuggets could get for him in any trade would unquestionably be viewed as a loss at first glance. (There’s a reason they should really consider retiring his jersey.)

But sometimes, you just need a lot of time to determine every last strand in a trade’s web.

Because when the Knicks traded for Anthony, one of the components was swapping first-round picks with the Nuggets in the 2016 NBA Draft. Denver wound up drafting in New York’s position at No. 7 overall, where it picked Murray.

Now, seven years later, Murray is the verifiable second-best player on a team in the NBA Finals, is one of the more underrated guards in basketball, and is a legitimate candidate for Finals MVP. And Murray never gets the chance to blossom with the Nuggets if they don’t offload Anthony — one of the more gifted players they’ve ever had.

Right now, oddsmakers with BetMGM have Murray with the fourth-best odds (+1400) to win this year’s NBA Finals MVP. When you consider that both Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum are still included — neither of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have been eliminated at the time of this writing — Murray will likely have the third-best odds before the Finals actually begin.

No top-10 pick is ever a throwaway. But even the Nuggets couldn’t have possibly imagined reaping the benefits of the Anthony trade with another player, Murray, who himself has morphed into one of the best players in franchise history.

Denver should almost be thanking Anthony for getting Murray because he might lead the organization to its first-ever title.

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