On Sunday night, Dejounte Murray will be making his much anticipated NBA All-Star debut when Team Durant takes on Team LeBron in Cleveland.
When it was announced that Murray would be replacing the injured Draymond Green in the 2022 All-Star Game, Spurs fans were elated that their franchise star was finally getting the respect he had earned.
Dejounte expressed gratitude for the opportunity as well. It's something he's dreamed of since high school. "I'm in awe," the Spurs point guard said. "All the love and support (the fans) give me daily, to my teammates, the organization, it means everything to me."
The selection is a testament to all the hard work Murray has put in since being drafted by the Spurs in 2016. When he takes the court on Sunday evening, he'll be squaring off with the best of the best in the NBA. Here's what we can expect to see from the Spurs' starting point guard.
1. Flashy moves from his playground days
Dejounte expressed his intention to put on a show at the All-Star Game in a news conference following his selection. "I'm from Seattle. These are the games we are built for," said Murray.
He's definitely had his share of highlight-worthy plays this season. Whether it was crossing over an opposing guard or throwing a between-the-legs pass, he's gone into showtime mode on several occasions. It certainly sounds like this is an environment he's prepared to thrive in.
Keldon Johnson agreed that Dejounte is primed to show off his skill come Sunday night. "I'm excited to see him have fun and let loose," Johnson said. "He deserves it and I hope he embraces it and enjoys every moment."
2. Multiple Steals from Dejounte
While Dejounte's offensive game has grown leaps and bounds, he's still a defensive specialist at heart. Getting a hand in passing lanes and making ball handlers uncomfortable is in his DNA.
This year, Murray leads the NBA in steals per game at 2.0. Back on December 20, he took the ball away five times in a win at the Clippers. His 106 total steals rank second in the league, with only Chris Paul having more takeaways on the season.
Murray is causing opponent turnovers at a higher rate than any other point in his career. He already has more steals in 2021-22 than last season in 15 fewer games. Players from Team LeBron will have to be mindful when throwing the ball in his direction because it'll lead to two quick points on the other end in a hurry.
3. Several Hustle Plays
When it comes to giving it your all on both ends of the floor, there's not many players that expend as much energy on the court as Dejounte. When you watch him, he's constantly fighting through screens and moving his feet on defense, all while being the primary offensive option for San Antonio.
Despite this workload, he still brings the energy every time down the floor. You're probably more likely to see Bigfoot than you are to see Dejounte Murray give up on a play. It's no surprise that he leads the NBA in a key hustle stat: deflections. He's the only player in the league with over 200 deflections this season.
In an environment like the NBA All-Star game where some guys are just happy to be there, I don't see Dejounte having the same outlook. He's a player that's always valued winning, played hard, and accepted nothing less than the best from himself. Not to mention it's his first time playing in a game he's waited years to be a part of.
My expectation is that he'll be out to prove he should have been selected to the game earlier, and show he is worthy of the title of All-Star.