To Be an NBA All-Star, Dejounte Murray May Have to Go Through Ja Morant
By Josh Paredes
The San Antonio Spurs could have their first All-Star representative since 2019, but Dejounte Murray may need to hurdle Ja Morant to get there.
Neither point guard has made an appearance as an NBA All-Star yet, but the odds are high that at least one of the two will be making the trip to Cleveland this February. Both are having career years for their respective teams, but a crowded guard position in the Western Conference could mean one might be left out of the festivities and deserved recognition.
Before jumping into what might likely happen if it comes down to these two for a spot on the team, let's have a look at the tale of the tape through Wednesday's games.
Dejounte Murray: 17.8 pts, 8.8 asts, 8.4 rebs, 2.0 stls, 43.8% FG
Ja Morant: 24.5 pts, 6.6 asts, 5.7 rebs, 1.5 stls, 47.8% FG
Morant is scoring at a considerably higher clip than Murray, but Murray has the edge in other main categories. Despite Dejounte's all-around statistics being a bit better, there are a few things he has against him when it comes to the All-Star game.
Ja Morant Has the Edge for All-Star Votes over Dejounte Murray
Two main factors stick out in my mind as reasons Morant will probably be voted into the All-Star Game over Murray: popularity and team performance.
With his meteoric rise and flashy play over the past two seasons, Morant has amassed quite a following, and deservedly so. He currently has 1.4 million followers on Twitter and 4.4 million on Instagram. For comparison, Murray has about 160,700 on Twitter and 780,000 on Instagram.
Obviously, follower counts should have little to do with being selected to an NBA All-Star game, but that kind of stuff matters when you consider fans will account for 50 percent of the vote. While the Twitter campaign for Dejounte to make his first All-Star Game is strong, he probably won't surpass Morant in that fan vote (That doesn't mean we shouldn't try though).
That means his best hope is to be voted in by the panel of current players and media members that each account for 25 percent of the vote.
Winning doesn't matter so much when it comes to fan votes, but it means a lot to the media and current players that vote each season. In fact, nothing besides popularity matters there. But a team's record is an important tiebreaker when individual stats might make a matchup too close to call.
Through Wednesday, the Spurs currently sit at 10th in the West with a record of 14-19. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are 4th at 22-14. It's certainly looking like Morant is a lock for the All-Star Game given his stellar play and Memphis overperforming, which could mean bad news for Murray.
By the time voting ends at midnight ET on January 22nd, the Spurs will have played 13 more games for a total of 47. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will have played 48.
Friday's showdown in Memphis will be the first time the Spurs meet the Grizzlies since losing to them 100-96 in May's play-in game. It will also be the only time the two sides meet before voting ends for the NBA All-Star Game.
Unfortunately, as it has all season, COVID protocols have put a damper on another intriguing NBA storyline this season, and Murray won't be playing traveling with the Spurs to Memphis for the showdown.
Still, the Spurs can do themselves and Murray a favor by starting their seven-game road trip with an underdog win over Morant and Memphis and building on that. If the Spurs can go into late January with a respectable record, Murray's strong play might not be able to be ignored.