The San Antonio Spurs' rising point guard has a big name in his corner. While we've previously made the case for Dejounte Murray to win the NBA Most Improved award, something tells me Jamal Crawford's word might carry a bit more weight.
In a must-read Sports Illustrated article diving deep into the life and career of Murray, Michael Pina revealed why the 20-year NBA veteran believes his mentee deserves the prestigious award.
“He can do everything on the court, and the smoothness with which he does it, like, I love watching him,” said Crawford.
Of course, Crawford might have a bit of a bias, but that's to be expected. Both growing up in the same area of Seattle, Murray and Crawford have formed a relationship that they both have described as even deeper than a friendship. Jamal explained in a 2016 ESPN story:
"I had heard about him already, and from that point on in the sixth grade, we stayed together. And then, he ended up going to my high school, and our relationship just really took off. He's like more than even a friend. He's like my brother."
Murray has shared similar sentiments about Crawford, who he says helped him get off the streets and into the gym at a crucial time in his life.
"He didn't have to take that role. Whether it was a text every day, or call like, 'little bro, get out of the streets. You can make it.' I thought about it, like, I can really make it."
You can check out his full story and much more on his upbringing here:
Now fighting to lead the Spurs to an unlikely playoff appearance and, Murray is the center of a young core destined to make some waves in the NBA. Here's how his stats this season compare to last year:
2019-20: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 REBS, 4.1 ASTS, 1.7 STLS, 46.2 FG%
2020-21: 15.9 PPG, 7.0 REBS, 5.4 ASTS, 1.5 STLS, 45.6 FG%
Pair his improvement with his world-class defense continuing to shine , and it's hard to deny Crawford's guy has a more-than-solid case for the NBA's Most Improved Award.
With four triple-doubles this season and counting, a push to the play-in tournament and beyond would certainly help Murray's case. It'll take a superhuman effort from exhausted legs, but as we saw with the Spurs' dominant win over the Milwaukee Bucks, anything is possible.