Dejounte Murray Is Ushering In a New Era of Spurs Basketball

(Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)

The San Antonio Spurs sat in the upper echelon of the NBA ranks for nearly two decades. Defined by the greatness of Greg Popovich and future hall-of-famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, the Spurs won five titles and reached the Finals six times. Since Popovich emphasizes a pass-first offense, the Spurs' scheme needs the right point guard to succeed. Finding someone to fill the shoes of Tony Parker is a borderline impossible task. Instead of finding the next Tony Parker, the Spurs found the first Dejounte Murray. Here’s how the sixth year guard out of Washington is ushering in a new era of Spurs basketball. 

Dejounte Murray began his basketball career at Rainier Beach Highschool in Seattle, Washington. Rainier Beach is known for being a basketball powerhouse with notable alumni such as Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Kevin Porter Jr. A four-star recruit, Murray chose to stay close to home and played college ball for the University of Washington. In his one year at Washington, Murray showed flashes of NBA potential but remained very raw. With the 29th pick in the 2016 Draft, the Spurs nabbed Murray, seeing potential in his length and high-motor."

During his rookie season, Murray was assigned to the G-League as the organization thought it would be best for him to gain more experience so that he could ultimately match the physicality and skill the NBA commands. It wasn’t until the following season that Murray found his way into the team and became a contributor. In his second year for the Spurs, Murray took a huge step and came into his own starting as the shooting guard. Routinely clamping the opposing team's best perimeter scorer, Murray was able to secure an All-NBA defensive second team nod this season, becoming the youngest player since Kobe Bryant to earn the achievement. 

Going into the 2018-19 season it seemed as though it was finally time for Dejounte Murray to shine. Unfortunately, Murray would sit out this entire season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game. With his head held high and the hunger to be great only growing stronger, Murray would begin rehabbing and make a full return by the 2019 season. 

The Spurs largely fell out of contention once they traded perennial superstar Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors before the 2018-19 season. This gave Dejounte Murray the time and wiggle-room to come into his own as the Spurs leading ball-handler.  Nearly averaging a triple double with 19.6 points, 9.2 assists, and 8.4 rebounds a game, Dejounte Murray has proven his bag is deep enough to lead the Spurs. More impressively, Murray is leading the NBA in steals, currently generating 2.1 steals per game. In almost every offensive scheme today teams will run a four-out on offense and have two shooters sit in the corner while the ball-handler runs a pick-and-roll. Most teams will switch on defense when hit with a pick, but Dejounte Murray always sticks. He is an absolute menace on-ball and can run just about any guard off the floor. 

Still, Murray struggles to stretch the floor, making just 31.8 percent of his 4.2 three-point attempts per game. But what Murrary lacks in shooting, he makes up with his ability to drive. Putting in 65.1% of his shots at the rim, Murray is constantly attacking downhill and punishing interior defenders. Another way that Murray makes up for his lack of three point production is through the mid-range game. Hunting for position at the free-throw line or the along the wings, Murray is keen on getting to his spots in the mid-range. 

While most players are modifying their game to suit the long-range shooting landscape of today’s NBA, Dejounte Murray has focused on getting better at the things he already did great. Now putting up career numbers in every category, Murray has solidified himself as the Spurs point-guard of the future. Slated to play in his first all-star game, Murray offers reason to believe that the Spurs have a bright future ahead of them.

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down