Dejounte Murray Summer League Review
By Zach Goding
Dejounte Murray started off summer league well, but struggled heavily since then. Finally, in the Spurs’ last game of the summer, Murray mails in a gem.
It is widely perceived that the Spurs got another steal in the 2016 NBA Draft with the selection of Washington point guard Dejounte Murray. After his contract got worked out, he got to Salt Lake to compete for the Spurs’ summer league team.
Initially, Murray looked like he could take over the Spurs’ summer squad much like Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons did last year. After Murray threw up a 21 point, 5 rebound debut against the Celtics in which he shot an efficient 8/12 from the floor, he began to show how raw he was.
In the following four games, Murray was incredibly inefficient, as his lack of shooting and decision making overshadowed his natural ability. Murray’s four game slump made him look like he just wasn’t ready to contribute on this level, even though his potential was clearly there.
SAS @ GSW: 8 points (3/11 FG, 2/3 FT), 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 3 blocks, and 5 turnovers.
SAS @ POR: 8 points (3/13 FG, 2/4 3P), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 6 turnovers
SAS @ CHI: 4 points (2/10 FG, 0/2 3P, 0/1 FT) 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers.
MIN @ SAS: 14 points (5/15 FG, 1/5 3P, 3/3 FT) 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 turnovers.
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For a point guard, averaging 8.5 points, one assist, and four turnovers per game is a nightmare. Even though his rebounding and defense were legitimate bright spots, Murray’s performance after his debut was down right awful.
Carrying a 0.25 assist/turnover ratio and shooting a mere 26 percent from the field, Murray’s 19 year old game was unpolished to say the least. With Tony Parker at 34 years of age and Patty Mills the streaky player that he is, Murray’s help could be used sooner rather than later.
However even with Murray’s sub-par play, the upside in his game was still obvious. His lanky 6-foot-5 frame with his ultra long 6-foot-10 wingspan made him a handful on the break. A lot of his baskets would come from a split second defensive breakdown by the opposing team where he would strike and score in a blink of an eye.
His defense, not his offense, might have been his biggest plus throughout his struggles. Averaging two steals and a block per game for a point guard is terrific, and he showed the ability to turn defense into offense on a consistent basis.
With one game left in the Spurs’ summer league season, Murray looked like a project that Spurs fans would have to wait on for quite some time, even though his ceiling was still high. However, Murray put it all together for the kind of performance that had Spurs’ fans salivating over the team’s late first round selection.
Murray put up 20 points on an efficient 9-of-20 field goal, 2-of-5 3P clip. Throw in nine assists, four rebounds, four steals, and just two turnovers in a Murray led over overtime win against the Kings, and the rookie really had himself a night. He even scored a runner that tied the game to send it to overtime.
His defensive effort, tempo-controlling passing, and nonstop penetration owned the night as the Spurs caught a glimpse of who they really drafted. Murray is undoubtedly immature and a little out of control in this early point in his career, but his potential was put on display in the Spurs’ summer finale.
Murray put it all together in his last game of real competition until the preseason, giving the Spurs hope at the one-spot for the future. Being able to get to his game and get others involved all while playing his high energy defense and taking care of the ball? It’s everything the Spurs could hope Murray will be in the future.
Murray will have all season to learn from the Spurs players and coaches, and to put together his first attempt at being somebody on basketball’s most competitive stage. He has a chance to be something special and whether he will ever hone his talent or fall off is unknown. However for at least one game in the dog days of summer, Murray looks like he has “it”.