San Antonio Spurs: Murray can instill defensive values alongside coaches
By Dylan Carter
It was reported that San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray will be spending some extra time with the coaching staff during his rehab.
Now that he’s successfully undergone surgery and is in the early staged of his rehab, point guard Dejounte Murray is on the brink of a new chapter of his basketball career. While it may not be the story that he would’ve hoped for, it’s one that he’ll embrace with confidence and a positive attitude.
Murray, who suffered a torn ACL in a preseason matchup against the Houston Rockets, will spend some extra time working with the Spurs’ expert coaching staff during his rehab, according to San Antonio Express News reporter Tom Orsborn. Head coach Gregg Popovich plans to include him in coaches’ meetings to keep him engaged and active in a basketball role.
“When he’s able to move a little bit more and get around, he’s going to become like a coach,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday. “We are going to put him in all our coaching meetings and let him sit there while we argue about game plans and what to do. We are going to have him be in every one of those meetings to at least fill his brain up a little bit with what’s going on.”
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As a student of the game, Murray has the chance to get inside the mind of one of the greatest coaches of all time. The mutual respect between Murray and Pop is clear as day, considering Popovich wouldn’t open up his meetings to anyone who walks through the door.
Inversely, Murray can provide some fantastic insight because of his experience playing alongside the other members of the team. Furthermore, his defensive mindset and high IQ will prove useful in improving the team’s defensive schemes and rotations.
In spite of their 5-2 record, San Antonio hasn’t performed well defensively to start the year. With a porous defensive rating of 110.6, the Spurs have dropped to 20th in the NBA while giving up 113 points per contest. In four of their first five victories of the season, the Spurs have given up 108 points or less.
Needless to say, there’s work to be done on that side of the ball.
This is the worst Spurs defense since the ABA.
— Dave DuFour (@DaveDuFourNBA) October 28, 2018
Murray’s presence, or lack thereof, has shifted the dynamic of the team by leaving them without an elite perimeter defender at the guard position. Although his commitment to an improved defensive effort has been evident, All-NBA shooting guard DeMar DeRozan lacks the defensive intangibles and skill that Murray brings to the table.
Adjacent to DeRozan on the perimeter is combo guard Bryn Forbes, whose obvious attempts at guarding the opposition often ends up in a missed read or late closeout. It’s easy to rag on Forbes’ defense but the truth of the matter is that he’s trying as hard as he possibly can but at his core, he’s simply not a good on-ball defender.
Where Murray could battle through screens or predict the motion of the opponent, Forbes is unable to compare. In a leadership role where he works closely with the coaching staff, Murray can help instill defensive skills and values in the Spurs’ young backcourt. Even DeRozan, who is seven years older than Murray, can learn from the young gun.
There’s only so much Popovich can do to reach his players and instill the defensive values that helped the San Antonio Spurs to reach the top of the sports franchise hierarchy.
Without even touching the court, Murray will continue to have a lasting impact on the success of the Spurs this season.