The San Antonio Spurs ended the season as the 10th seed in the tough Western Conference. With Dejounte Murray leading the way, they proved they have the ability to be one of the top teams in the conference in the future. Although, they're still a few pieces away from being a legit playoff team. Murray is one of the keys to their incredible improvement.
In the 2020-21 NBA season, Murray led the Spurs to the NBA Play-In Tournament. Unfortunately for them, they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, ending their season as the 10th seed. Still, Murray was able to post averages of 15.7 points, 5.4 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game.
This season, Murray led the Spurs in points, assists, and steals, averaging a near triple-double and leading the league in steals all throughout the regular season while making his first NBA All-Star Game appearance. The league and the fans are finally giving him the recognition he deserves. Not to mention, he did all of this after an ACL injury back in the 2018-19 season.
The Most Improved Player Award is up for grabs
On Sunday, the NBA released the finalists for all of its awards, and Murray was included in the final three for the Most Improved Player.
However, the MIP race this year isn't the usual where you can clearly see the winning based on one look. Similar to the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year races, the battle for the Most Improved Player is as close as ever. Ja Morant and Darius Garland both have serious chances to win the award.
If you take a look at Murray's advanced stats, you can see his tremendous improvement on the floor. Last year, he was 3rd on the team in win shares with 3.3 right behind Jakob Poeltl and DeMar DeRozan. This year, he's first in win shares after more than doubling that to 7.3.
It may be the effect of DeRozan leaving the team, but it's still a huge improvement. On the other side of the ball, he still leads the Spurs in defensive win shares. From a 2.6 to a 3.4 this year, Murray's defensive abilities aren't slept on anymore.
With all these said, his improvement this year has solidified his role as the Spurs' cornerstone. As the Spurs look to improve on their roster during the offseason, Murray has made one thing certain, he is their leader. The 29th overall pick has proven that he can be the guy for a hyped-up Spurs team.