First-time NBA All-Star Dejounte Murray is having a fantastic season for the San Antonio Spurs. The sixth-year guard is averaging a stellar 21.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game and has established himself as the team's new star.
That's a big deal considering the Spurs hadn't had an All-Star since the 2017-18 season, and having one gives San Antonio a player to build around. However, a team is only as good as its best player, and while Murray is definitely good, the Spurs will need him to be even better for them to contend for a championship. So how can Murray make the final leap into superstar status next season?
After missing the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL, Murray has shown rapid improvement, more than making up for lost time. Just last season, he was simply an above-average player but became an All-Star during the first half of this season. Moreover, in the second half of this season, Murray has again upped his play and is looking more and more like a superstar.
For the 15 games since the All-Star break, he's averaging a fantastic 25.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 8.9 assists, and 2.1 steals. While his rebounds, assists, and steals are identical to his first-half stats, he's managed to increase his scoring by nearly six points per game. That's a huge jump, which is impressive, to say the least, but more so considering that he also improved his efficiency.
Murray boasts a 57.6% true shooting percentage during this stretch, which is above league average and up from 51.9% pre-All-Star break. What's fueling his shooting improvement is him drilling nearly 52% of his 2-pointers and 83.1% of his free throws while averaging 6.1 attempts per game. Some of that can be attributed to playing more with the ball and also having the freedom to take more shots. That's led to his usage rate increasing to nearly 30%, which is comparable to several superstar guards.
Is Dejounte Murray ready for the big leap?
All of that proves that he is ready to take on an expanded offensive role, and that bodes well for the Spurs. In fact, Murray is demonstrating that he's capable of averaging 25 points and 10 assists per game next season. That would put him in the same category as several former league MVPs including Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and LeBron James.
More importantly, that means Murray could be good enough to carry an elite offense. To get there, he'll need to continue to get to the line, something that he's struggled to do in the past. Additionally, while he's shooting a high and sustainable percentage on twos, he'll still need to work to improve as a 3-point shooter.
He has made big strides in that regard, and it wasn't that long ago that he would hang out in the dunker's spot when teams would ignore him when he didn't have the ball. Now, he's attempting a career-high 4.2 threes per game but is still shooting below league average.
Were he able to become an above-average 3-point shooter, it would allow him to play more off-ball while still being an offensive threat. Or, better yet, he could evolve into a player who can shoot threes off the dribble, which would be a game-changer.
That's more of a luxury than a necessity at this point, but not impossible based on the fact that he's one of the better mid-range shooters in the NBA and almost all of those shots are self-created. As for his playmaking, it's hard to imagine Murray being better than he has been, but as his teammates improve around him, he actually could be.
All in all, Murray is already playing like a superstar, but he isn't quite there just yet. That said, assuming Murray continues to work on his game, he can absolutely leap to superstar status next season.