How will the success of Derrick White affect Dejounte Murray and the San Antonio Spurs going forward?
No matter what happens over the next few days there is one takeaway that will remain unchanged: Derrick White is the San Antonio Spurs best point guard. This is in no way is a knock on Dejounte Murray who has quietly put up solid numbers during the NBA resumption. It is simply acknowledging that Derrick has been one of the best players not only on the Spurs but in the entire NBA bubble.
For Dejounte, so far he has put up 13 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28 minutes per game. While his shooting percentages have taken a dip, he has found other ways to contribute whether it’s rebounding, getting a steal, or running the fastbreak. The young guard has been a key player for this roster. His numbers may steadily improve if his minutes stay around 30 per game going into next season.
Compare these numbers to White’s, however, who’s averaging almost 21 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.8 assists while shooting an incredible 43% from three and it’s pretty clear who’s been the better player. Derrick’s been incredible on both ends of the court and has been by far the most important player in the bubble for the Spurs aside from DeMar DeRozan.
The two have proven that they can play together and be effective, but how does the emergence of Derrick White as one of the San Antonio Spurs top players impact the future of the already anointed franchise point guard?
Next: How does White's shooting ability impact Murray's future?
With Derrick’s incredible shooting, what role will Dejounte see on that end going forward?
White’s performance from behind the arc has been a revelation for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s skyrocketed from an average shooter averaging a few attempts per game to a lights out volume shooter from behind the arc. Those kinds of transformations are rare and quite impressive given the circumstances. This is only going to help the San Antonio Spurs going forward.
One thing it may mean is more of a back seat role in terms of running the offense. While Dejounte’s jumper has come a long way from his rookie season, he still is inconsistent and he has never been the best passing point guard on the roster. It may be more beneficial to Dejounte to be utilized more as a third or fourth scoring option, but a pretty dang good one.
Having an inconsistent jumper, there’s a lot more pressure on Dejounte to consistently produce offensively especially on a roster with talented shooters. Being able to defer more to primary ball handlers like DeMar, White, and even Lonnie Walker, who has taken major steps forward as a passer, may take the pressure off Dejounte and allow him to play at his own pace.
Dejounte could really excel in this type of roll. He’s proven himself a capable spot-up 3-point shooter, and he was starting to hit his strides offensively before the NBA season was put on hold. Still, too many times throughout the season he came up short offensively in games, Derrick too for that matter. Part of that is on inconsistent minutes and lineups, the other part is this season has been really bad for almost everyone on the Spurs.
Next: Spurs will still need Dejounte on the defensive end
The Spurs still stink defensively, and that means they’ll need Dejounte going forward.
No matter what Dejounte’s offensive game looks like he is too important to the team defensively to let that get in the way of his playing time. If we want the Dejounte and Derrick lineup to work, the Spurs need to do what they have done in the bubble which is put them on the floor together as much as possible. They have only played together for 218 minutes this season including bubble games and have put up a positive net rating of 21.
While the Spurs have struggled still defensively during the NBA restart, that is not really the fault of Dejounte or Derrick. The lineups are practically brand new and most of these guys (Dejounte, Derrick, Lonnie, Keldon Johnson, Quinndary Weatherspoon), are still getting used to playing with each other.
This group is overflowing with potential. Both White and Dejounte have a case for making an All-Defensive Team this year and together they could form one of the very best defensive backcourts in the league. With the rest of the guys rounding out the backcourt, the Spurs are looking at a young group that is well suited to playing the fast-paced, switch-heavy style of defense that could be a nightmare for other teams.
When young players are sharing the floor together for the first time there inevitably will be growing pains and the fact that the Spurs have been able to see success and focus on player development has been a wonderful surprise. They might need a bit more time to come together as a cohesive defensive unit but they’ll surely get there.
Next: What does the future look like for Dejounte and Derrick?
Dejounte is still a very important piece to this San Antonio Spurs team.
It may be easy after reading all of this to stay that I think Dejounte is an underwhelming player but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dejounte is a wonderful player and a fantastic fit for this Spurs roster. He was dealt an unfortunate hand last season when he tore his ACL in the preseason, but he has worked hard to get to where he is now and all Spurs fans should be proud of how far he has come.
The Spurs have a young, talented guard who loves the city of San Antonio and wants to spend his entire career with the franchise. As a small-market team, that is not something the Spurs should take for granted. The bubble has been a wonderful surprise for everyone. Derrick’s stellar play, Keldon’s emergence, Lonnie’s potential, even Quinndary has shown a lot of promise. Dejounte fits right in with those guys and will have a big role on the team going forward.
The future looks a heckuva lot brighter for the silver and black right now than it did just a month ago. With the return of LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles to the team next season, it will be interesting to see how they gel with the new, younger lineups we have seen in the backcourt. DeMar’s offseason decision is still one that will be detrimental to the franchise, and after seeing some of the potentials of some of the young players, perhaps he will want to stick around for a few more seasons.
Then again, DeRozan is looking at the latter years of his career in front of him, he only has so many good years left, and no one could blame him if he left for either a contender or for a bigger paycheck. Spurs fans can probably sleep a little better at night if he leaves knowing the franchise is in good hands going forward.
For now, all that’s left is to finish out these last few games of the regular season strong and let the chips fall where they may. If White is out, hopefully, Dejounte will be able to step up and fill the void offensively. Regardless of what happens, the Spurs should hang their heads high after it’s all said and done, they’ve surprised a lot of people and have been an absolute joy to watch.