The Spurs selected Dejounte Murray with the 29th pick in the 2017 draft. Despite his limited role, the Seattle-born rookie already has San Antonio fans talking about his bright future
Plenty of individuals within the basketball world expected Dejounte Murray to be a mid 1st-round pick. The word “steal” was thrown around early on when Murray almost slipped into the 2nd round of what could turn out to be one of the best draft classes in recent memory.
The rangy 6’5″ point guard was a fantastic college player during his time as a Washington Husky. He was averaging 16.1 points, 4.4 assists, six rebounds and two steals per game.
One of the big questions, however, centered around Murray’s’ ability to hit shots from beyond the arc after only connecting on 29% of his attempts during his one-and-done season in the Pac-12.
For the Spurs, that hasn’t been a problem.
Murray isn’t firing at a Steph Curry rate just yet, but the shots he has taken have been high-quality, high-percentage looks and he’s been able to convert on a respectable 39% of them.
The one thing every scout and media member said about Murray coming into the NBA is that he loves the game of basketball.
That becomes abundantly clear through watching his style of play. His fundamental knowledge and defensive recognition is far more advanced than his 20 year-old age would suggest.
Murray’s height and instinctual relentlessness on the boards is a huge foundational advantage. The ability to create second-chance opportunities goes a long way in a system built completely around team-oriented selflessness.
Filling A Team Need
It’s no secret that Tony Parker is approaching the twilight of his historical career.
Having a young point-guard prospect to develop and nurture in the meantime is another ode to R.C Bufords‘ ability to plan for the future.
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Expecting Murray to come in and immediately replace the contributions of a 4x NBA Champion like Parker would be unfair. That being said, Murray matched the Spurs record for a rookie winning in his first seven career starts. The only other to ever do it? A Mr. William Anthony “Tony” Parker Jr.
In his 8 games as a starter, Murray is averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds, including a career-high 24 points against the Denver Nuggets.
Dejounte Murray is a clever basketball player.
He has wonderful ball-handling abilities for his size. That is coupled with the ability to get into the paint and finish with either hand, making life difficult for defenders, particularly smaller guards.
The Spurs have the valuable commodity of time.
Patty Mills is considered one of the most potent off-the-bench players in the league. Parker and Manu Ginobli have the interchangeable ability to play both guard positions and Jonathon Simmons is quickly making a name for himself.
Finding His Role With The Team
There is no immediate rush to force the development of Murray. Gregg Popovich and R.C Buford have ensured they handle his playing time and competitive opportunities with patience.
In addition to getting NBA game-time under his belt, Murray has played 15 games for the San Antonio Spurs D-league affiliate, averaging an impressive 17.2 points, 6.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds and two steals per game.
Murray is obviously a project, but for a 20 year-old player who needs time and support to develop his skills, there is no better place than San Antonio.
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If his limited time with the Spurs is any indication, his future is whatever he wants it to be. For a long, athletic point-guard with an excellent fundamental understanding of the game, the sky should be the only limit.