Ahead of his third season, San Antonio Spurs starting point guard Dejounte Murray will tackle the added responsibility of leading the team.
Among things to be concerned with ahead of the 2018-19 season, the dedication of Dejounte Murray is the least of head coach Gregg Popovich’s worries. The 22-year-old has spent his first two seasons working toward the opportunity that he’ll embrace in the new season.
This will mark Murray’s first full season as a starter in the NBA, a milestone that many players could only dream of. It was his work ethic and active choice to buy in to the Spurs culture that earned him the position.
Murray spoke about his willingness to become a leader during the Spurs Media Day on Monday.
“I’ve been a guy that’s not afraid of criticism, I’m a guy that’s willing to speak how I feel and that plays a big role in being a leader,” Murray said. “I’m not afraid to speak on what I see.”
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Midway through the 2017-18 season, Murray assumed the role of full-time starter ahead of franchise point guard Tony Parker and veteran Patty Mills. This upswing in playing time was crucial in his All Defensive Second Team campaign. With Parker leaving San Antonio for the Charlotte Hornets, many expect Murray to become a new face of the franchise.
A player’s third year is always crucial to their overall progression and Murray has been hard at work since the Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs at the end of April. Throughout the summer, Murray has been practicing his jump shot and ball handling skills knowing he’ll need to shoulder a larger offensive load with his expanded role.
“He really wants to be to the team what Tony was to the team and I’m confident that he’ll do that as time goes on,” Popovich said. “He’s up for the challenge. We’re going to let him run and take advantage of his athleticism. People will have to respond to that.”
The 6-foot-5 hyper athlete provides a much needed change of pace from Parker and Mills, whose athleticism has escaped them in the latter stages of their respective careers. With running mates DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay on the wing, San Antonio may have its most athletic core since the days of David Robinson.
This season ushers in the era of Dejounte Murray. There’s no more Parker as a safety net for Murray, this is now his team 100 percent of the way. After two seasons of grooming him into the explosive two-way player he’s become, Popovich has taken off the training wheels.
“I’m ready for whatever role Pop wants to allow me to have,” Murray said.
Now is the time for Murray to prove what he’s really got and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect.