The San Antonio Spurs might want to think about investing in a guy who can play both guard positions for their 29th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. An intriguing player who may be available when they go on the clock is Dejounte Murray from the University of Washington.
Guard depth is suddenly looking like a team need for the Spurs. Tony Parker is declining, Manu Ginobili is contemplating retirement, and Patty Mills is a free agent after next season. Murray could be the next piece brought in by the Spurs to bolster the team.
Murray was named Washington Mr. Basketball in 2015 before having an impressive freshman season at the University of Washington. Previous winners of that award have included Zach LaVine, Spencer Hawes, and Aaron Brooks, indicating that the honor has often lead to NBA success.
Murray made the Second Team All-Pac-12 by averaging 16.1 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game, and 4.4 assists per game. He showed that he has the ability to fill up a stat sheet, and his 6’5’’ frame helps him corral an impressive amount of rebounds for his position.
Despite his solid height for the point guard position, he’s still very skinny, and needs to add some bulk. He weighed in at only 162 LBS, and staying at that weight would put him at risk of being pushed around by more physical point guards in the NBA.
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It’s an uphill battle for a guard to thrive in the modern NBA game without 3-point range, and Murray would have to improve as a shooter once he entered the league. He shot less than 29% from the college 3-point line during his season at Washington, but the Spurs have worked wonders with improving the range of their players.
There’s no reason that training with assistant coach Chip Engelland wouldn’t help Murray become a more reliable shooter. Murray shot less than 67% on free throws at Washington, emphasizing the need for him to improve his shooting touch in multiple areas.
Standing at 6’5’’ with a wingspan of 6’9.5’’, Murray has the tools to antagonize opposing guards on defense. He lacked consistent defensive intensity at Washington, but his long arms still allowed him to average 1.8 steals per game.
The Spurs are a team that’s committed to defense, and Murray has the raw potential to develop into a defensive threat. His biggest obstacles are his lack of strength and a lackadaisical attitude on defense. Both problems are easily fixed, but for now they remain question marks until he proves otherwise.
He’s most comfortable leading a fast-paced offense, which would somewhat conflict with the Spurs’ more methodical style. However, roster diversity is a good thing to possess, and Murray could provide the team with a spark if they ever wanted to change things up within the flow of a game.
His lack of a reliable jumper forces him to rely on his slashing ability. He’s always looking to score, and can create his own shot through his great ball handling skills. Until he develops a better jumper, though, he’ll have to get his points on cuts to the rim.
The downside to his willingness to attack the hoop is that he’s doesn’t have the strength to be an elite finisher around the hoop.
Among his flashes of brilliance as a floor orchestrator, he’s still far too reckless to be leaned upon to facilitate on offense consistently. He’s in-between a point guard and shooting guard, with severe weaknesses on traits that each position requires. For a point guard, he’s too turnover prone, but as a shooting guard, he’s too erratic with his jumper.
Murray’s game is raw, which is why he raised eyebrows by declaring for the draft as a freshman without much of a chance to be picked anywhere near the lottery. The talent is there, but he’s a guy who could have benefitted from polishing his game more in the Pac-12 Conference.
His length at his position is intriguing, especially if he can be tailored to become a reliable point guard. He seems like a very hit or miss prospect, but the Spurs are an organization that is known for getting the very best out of players it brings in.
Murray would have a chance to thrive in San Antonio, but he’d have a lot of improving to do. The persistence to score on the offensive end is there, for better or worse. His flashes of tremendous scoring ability are too often clouded with turbulent decision making.
A team that’s willing to deal with the bumps along the way will be very happy if he lives up to his potential, and the Spurs should feel confident that they’re the ones who can help him reach his high ceiling as a player.