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San Antonio Spurs: Three goals for Dejounte Murray in 2018-19

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MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 24: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 24: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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SACRAMENTO, CA – DECEMBER 23: Tony Parker #9 and Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs warm up against the Sacramento Kings on December 23, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA – DECEMBER 23: Tony Parker #9 and Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs warm up against the Sacramento Kings on December 23, 2017 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dejounte Murray will enter his third season with the San Antonio Spurs, but what can he strive to achieve?

Dejounte Murray‘s 2017-18 season featured ups and downs, including losing the starting point guard job when Tony Parker was hurt. Eventually, Parker made way for this rising talent, and he held down this spot for the rest of the year.

Without this veteran presence, the point guard spot is Murray’s for 2018-19, his first full season with the job. He will handle the ball for a new-look team that no longer has Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Anderson.

What can Murray do to take another step forward, though? Let’s take a look:

3. Win another defensive award

In just 48 starts and a shade over 21 minutes per game, Dejounte Murray took home a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for the 2017-18 season. He not only racked up 1.2 steals per game, but a 101 Defensive Rating represented his strong, defensive presence on the perimeter.

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Perhaps Murray’s most notable stat, he dominated the boards as a 6-foot-5 point guard, with 5.7 rebounds per game; an above-average number for a player at a position that’s not expected to grab rebound, but his unique combination of height and wingspan allowed this to come to fruition.

As Murray’s experience in the NBA continues, he should only improve. That potentially means more defensive awards are on the way, maybe as soon as the 2018-19 season.

Murray stands a chance at another second-team award. Given the strength of last season’s first team, it might be a difficult group to crack, but if his defensive level takes another step forward in 2018-19, maybe this becomes viable.

The sky is the limit for Murray’s defense, given what he proved as a 21 year old. Will he win another award in the spring?

Next: Average more minutes

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MARCH 13: The jersey of Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs as seen during the game against the Orlando Magic on March 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MARCH 13: The jersey of Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs as seen during the game against the Orlando Magic on March 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

2. Average between 25-30 minutes per game

At age 21, an average of 21 minutes per game would be plenty for anyone, and that’s what Murray pulled in for the San Antonio Spurs in 2017-18. That number developed from a back-and-forth use of his minutes in the first half of the season, as well as downtime through December, when head coach Gregg Popovich limited his on-court time.

Once Murray became the full-time starter in January, however, he averaged 26.5 minutes per game. Whether it’s this number or higher, a range of 25-30 minutes should be a goal for him to strive for in 2018-19.

A high, consistent dose of minutes would represent a positive improvement for Murray, meaning he did not sacrifice minutes to other guards or find himself in Popovich’s doghouse. It’s difficult to expect higher than 30 minutes per game, especially as the Washington product will only enter his third season and San Antonio usually stays patient with its youth. But as the team transitions to a new phase, Murray’s expanded role will be at its forefront.

A rise in minutes should result in higher stat averages, too; a basic given for any NBA player. How far will that go for his points, rebounds and assists per game in year three? Are double-digit averages in store for any of these categories?

Next: Improved three-point shooting

MEMPHIS, TN – JANUARY 24: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN – JANUARY 24: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 24, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Improve three-point shooting

As the NBA continues to expand past the three-point line, it forces players who do not enter the league with a jump shot to work on it. Murray fits this bill, as he arrived in 2016 with questions, according to DraftExpress.

Murray’s outside game was limited in his first full season, with a 26.5 percent mark on just 34 attempts. Though, in the playoffs, he went 4-for-6 and surprised everyone, including 3-for-4 in the San Antonio Spurs’ only win against the Golden State Warriors.

In the offseason, Murray continued his three-point shooting development, which took over social media in July. None of these happened in NBA settings, so it’s no guarantee he shoots this well once the regular season starts, but only positives can be taken from this.

If Murray receives the green light to shoot from behind the arc, it could remove any notion of issues with his jump shot. That of course depends how he performs, but any hint of improvement will bring a boost to the Spurs offense; it’s not expected to be a three-point shooting team, due to LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan‘s skill sets.

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Above 30 percent would be a positive for Murray, on at least 1.5 or 2 attempts per game. He did not average a full attempt in either NBA season, so game-to-game consistency in taking those outside shots will go far towards his confidence and long term development for the Spurs.

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