SA Spurs: Dejounte Murray’s breakout season is fueled by his drive to lead

San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray
San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages
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Luka Doncic, Dejounte Murray / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

Murray leads by example for a sturdy SA Spurs defense

Scoring brings the gaudy stats that draw attention from the masses, but Dejounte Murray’s defense has never wavered. Using his long reach and exceptional timing, the former UW Husky ranks 6th in steals per game with a career-best 2.2 per contest.

Like a prowler in the night, Dejounte lurks on his opponents. With game awareness akin to an All-Pro safety, Murray waits for his opponent to make even the slightest of mistakes before pouncing at the ball. Oftentimes tasked with the most difficult assignment, Murray fights through screens and shifts his feet in unity with his opponent to make sure they don’t beat him to their spot.

Perennially ranked near the top of the NBA in steals and deflections, Dejounte Murray is further solidifying himself as one of the most defiant defensive stalwarts at a position where defense can get lost. He has more deflections than all but six players to this point in the season because he remains engaged off the ball.

Furthermore, few guards can match up at the point of attack better than Murray does. He’s a ballhawk capable of ripping the basketball from nearly anyone without committing a foul. That can be attributed to his quick hands and superb timing—two traits that follow him from his college days.

That translates to a winning product for a stout defensive team in the San Antonio Spurs. His overall on/off differential this season is +12.1 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. Overall, the team gives up 5.6 more points per 100 possessions when their leader is on the floor versus when he is off it. Quantifying defensive intensity can be tricky but anyone who simply puts down their phone or stat sheets to watch Murray play can plainly see that he’s a difference-maker.

This is the Dejounte Murray that the San Antonio Spurs envisioned when they drafted him. With a resilient spirit and an ambitious approach to his craft, Murray has worked tirelessly to become the player he is today. It’s a true testament to both his willpower and work ethic considering where he started versus where he is today.

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By the way, Murray is 25, so he’s only just getting started.