The San Antonio Spurs suffered a major blow as Dejounte Murray tore his ACL against the Rockets. Who will step up in his absence?
The San Antonio Spurs were already reeling from the loss of rookie guard Lonnie Walker after he tore his meniscus this preseason.
The organization was excited about Walker’s upside, but he wasn’t expected to get a ton of playing time this season as San Antonio is pretty well stocked with talent at guard.
However, that group of guards lost a major contributor this week as the team announced that Dejounte Murray had suffered a torn ACL in Sunday’s preseason game against the Rockets.
The Spurs’ coaching staff was expecting a breakout season from the third-year guard on the offensive end of the floor after he had established himself as one of the league’s best defenders.
Murray was going to be the team’s full-time starter at point guard this year after breaking into the starting lineup midway through last season.
Unfortunately that all went out the window after he twisted his knee against Houston this weekend.
The only bright side to any of this news is that Murray didn’t damage any other ligaments based on what we know so far.
The Spurs must move forward with Murray likely out for the year, and the other guards on the roster will see increased playing time while he is on the sidelines.
Second-year guard Derrick White will probably see the biggest bump in playing time as he is the closest facsimile to what Murray brings to the table.
The 6-foot, 5-inch point guard has similar length to Murray on the defensive end, and he has the ability to run an offense from the point guard position.
White is still incredibly raw after spending most of his rookie season in the G League, but he showed some flashes in his 139 NBA minutes last year and he’s earned some praise from Gregg Popovich this preseason:
“He’s a really steady player,” said Pop earlier this month. “He’s a good shooter, makes good decisions. He’s a good passer.”
Pop was asked whether White will take Murray’s spot in the starting lineup to start the year to which he replied White will be “in the mix.”
Patty Mills is another more experienced option at point guard, but Popovich has been reluctant to start him before (54 starts in 449 career games for the Spurs) and Mills even confirmed to a reporter that he’s more comfortable working with the second unit:
“That is true. I’ve said with that second unit we’re able to get the ball moving. It’s so different from how the first group works. I don’t have to tell them. I’m sure they know.”
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Other than Mills and White there aren’t any other true point guards on the Spurs roster. However, they may be looking to add one after waiving Jaron Blossomgame. Even if they do acquire another guard, it will take a couple of weeks for that new player to get acquainted with San Antonio’s system.
DeMar DeRozan should take on even more of a playmaking role with Murray on the sidelines, and LaMarcus Aldridge will also see some more touches after losing the starting point guard.
I’d expect White to take Murray’s spot with the starters, but I don’t think he’ll play more than 20 minutes per game.
Patty Mills will see an uptick in playing time, and DeRozan could be used as a point guard in clutch situations throughout the year alongside San Antonio’s rotation of shooting guards including Marco Belinelli and Bryn Forbes.
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This is obviously a major bummer for a team that was going to count on Murray for some major contributions on both ends of the floor this season. However, this will give Derrick White to show that he was deserving of being selected in the first round in 2017.