San Antonio Spurs fans have clamored for the combination of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray to be played more and they’re not alone.
This season has been filled with defensive struggles for the San Antonio Spurs. Game after game we’ve seen sub-par perimeter defense lead to wide-open lanes to the rim. Despite the defensive breakdowns, the Spurs coaching staff has been consistent in their refusal to explore what could be their best defensive backcourt.
Just last week Dylan Carter wrote about how the Spurs need to explore the Dejounte Murray and Derrick White combination more often down the stretch. Yesterday Murray added his voice to Dylan’s and called for more playing time with Derrick White.
In speaking to Tom Osborn with mySanAntonio after Monday’s practice, Murray was sure to mention how much he enjoyed playing with White. “I love playing with Derrick,” Murray said, “he loves playing with me. We are both unselfish. We both can do a lot of things on both ends of the floor. Hopefully, it will continue to happen. But we can’t control that.”
We’ve been calling for more minutes featuring the Spurs young defensive-minded guards all season but Gregg Popovich hasn’t relented. He’s hinted at playing the two together before but his actions speak much louder than his words.
Despite the calls from fans and the media, Murray and White have only played in 83 minutes together. The two have unsurprisingly posted an impressive defensive rating of 99.5 in those very limited minutes. Imagine that, when you play two of your best defenders together, your defense improves. Wild.
As impressive as the two are on defense, they could do some serious damage on the offensive end as well. Coming into this season there were concerns about the pairs’ ability to play together, largely due to Murray’s inconsistent jumper. Those fears have been put to bed as the season has progressed as Murray has gradually improved to become one of the Spurs’ most dangerous shooters.
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After shooting just 26.5 percent from behind the arc in his last season with the Spurs, Murray has taken a massive leap and is know knocking down 38.7 percent of his shots from 3-point land. He’s also improved as a mid-range shooter, frequently punishing defenders for sagging off of him.
I don’t want to read too much into what Murray said after practice yesterday but the last part of his quote is eye-catching. “Hopefully, it will continue to happen. But we can’t control that.” That sounds similar to another quote Murray had earlier this month.
After Lonnie Walker posted a photo of himself and Murray on Instagram, Murray left a not so cryptic comment, saying “I Swear We Gone Take Over This Sh*t When We Get That OPPORTUNITY Brother!!!!!!! ???♂️?”. Between his comments after practice yesterday and that comment on Walker’s photo it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it seems like Murray feels that he and the other young Spurs aren’t getting the opportunities they need.
They’re not alone. Spurs fans have been calling for more playing time for the young Spurs as the team continues to struggle. Those cries aren’t going to get any quieter as San Antonio continues to fall further and further away from the final playoff spot. They’ll reach a fever pitch if/when the Spurs are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
It’ll be maddeningly frustrating if Gregg Popovich sticks to his guns all season and continues to stagger Murray and White. They’re the future of this team and it’s about time we get a better idea of what that future is going to look like.