Entering his fifth year on the court for the San Antonio Spurs, Dejounte Murray heads into the 2021-22 season coming off a career year. It was a season where he made big strides as an offensive player and set career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game.
With former teammates DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, and Patty Mills all out of the picture in San Antonio, a huge opportunity opens up for the young Spurs players, and that begins with their starting point guard.
As Dejounte Murray and the other young guns step into larger roles, an uptick in production is expected. But how much, exactly? Here are my bold predictions for the Spurs' starting point guard in 2021-22:
1. Murray will shoot 50% from the field
Dejounte Murray's offensive game has improved leaps and bounds since he was drafted by the Spurs in 2016, and his 2020-21 campaign is surefire evidence of that. He increased his scoring production by nearly five points per game while attempting almost five extra shots per contest from the previous season. He did it without seeing much drop at all in shooting efficiency (46.2% to 45.3%).
When he takes on an assumedly even larger scoring role this season, I see him continuing this trend and taking smarter shots as he begins to carry a heavier load on the offensive end. One thing Murray has excelled at is developing his midrange jumper off the dribble. The more he can utilize this skill, the more dangerous he will be as an efficient scorer.
2. Murray will set a career high in steals
After entering the league as a valuable on-ball defender, Murray has only improved his reputation in that regard. Becoming the youngest player ever to be named to an All-Defense team in 2018 certainly didn't hurt his cause.
Many fans consider the "steal and slam" his signature play. Back on January 27th, the Spurs' point guard did just that as he poked the ball away from Kemba Walker in the closing seconds to seal the victory against the Celtics.
Murray's current record for steals in a season stands at 111, which he recorded in just 66 games in 2019-20. If he sees the floor in at least 70 games in the upcoming campaign, he can easily eclipse this mark. Being surrounded by better defensive personnel should allow him to shine even more at that end of the floor.
3. Murray will lead the Spurs in scoring
Two of the biggest questions surrounding the upcoming Spurs season are who will lead the team in scoring and who will be the go-to player down the stretch. I think the answer to both could be number 5.
After growing his offensive repertoire and leadership abilities under DeMar DeRozan's tutelage, there's no better candidate. With Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, Derrick White, and others all being counted on to do more this year, the longest-tenured Spur should look to take the reins and lead by example as a new era of basketball begins in San Antonio.