San Antonio Spurs: Ranking the Top 5 guys likely to take the big leap

Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray
Keldon Johnson, Dejounte Murray / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs Dejounte Murray / Elsa/Getty Images

5. Dejounte has grown so much — How much more can he improve?

Alright, readers — let’s draw from the narrative genius of Ferris Bueler and break the fourth wall a little bit.

I’ve followed Dejounte Murray’s pro career as closely as anyone in this media circuit. Since a very early stage in his Spurs tenure, it’s been apparent that DJ has what it takes to be a championship point guard. His grit, intensity, selfless nature, and dedication to his craft make it sincerely evident. That being said, I’m not completely sold on the idea that he’ll become a high volume scorer while maintaining efficiency.

Dejounte remains one of the most impactful guard defenders in basketball—a trait so scarce that it’s only a matter of time before teams on the cusp of contention start ringing Brian Wright’s phone off the hook with trade offers. Would he immediately improve that team’s chances of winning a chip? Without a doubt in my mind, but it would draw him away from what’s looking like his best opportunity to reach that next level.

One of the best mid-range shooters in basketball, Dejounte is a clear-cut ‘two and a half-level scorer’ who’s never afraid to attack his spots on the floor for a pull-up jumper or shot near the rim. The 3-point shooting is stuck somewhere between ‘Meh’ and ‘Not half bad,’ but it’s nowhere near reliable yet. If DJ can level out between 35-and-36% from deep at his current output of three attempts per game, I think Spurs fans would be elated with his growth.

Despite my faith in his talent, there is a chance that we’re approaching Dejounte Murray’s ceiling as an offensive engine. He can certainly return to an All-Defensive level as the Spurs improve their overall team defense, but it would take considerable improvement as a scorer and facilitator for Dejounte to improve more than some of his teammates.

Outside of the context of this conversation, Dejounte remains a tremendous player whose most important dynamic is as a leader. As the longest-tenured Spur who’s still considered part of their young core, Dejounte worked under Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who instilled leadership qualities in him very early in his career. Now is his turn to pass that corporate knowledge on to the youngins.

Murray doesn’t need to post an outstanding increase in scoring or even assists to improve for his team. The most important step in his progression is to become a floor general who makes his teammates better on and off the court. If he fulfills that role, it will be the most important ‘jump’ that any player on the roster can take this season. On a team full of players age 23 and younger hoping to establish themselves in their NBA careers, Dejounte is the oracle whose wisdom may guide them to the promised land.

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