Great franchises stay great by making decisions for the team. On January 23rd the Spurs announced that Dejounte Murray would replace 17-year NBA veteran Tony Parker in the starting lineup. The Spurs have responded to the change, winning 3 of 4. Murray has put up decent numbers since the lineup change. In 29 minutes per game, he has averaged 12 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.8 turnovers on a 50.6 true shooting percentage.
The 2nd year guard out of Washington is not a finished product, a clear lack of any long range shooting will hinder his progression into stardom. Murray though brings a swiss army knife of other attributes, rebounding, play making, court vision and length. Defensively, San Antonio has an absolute stalwart in its 6-5 bundle of energy. Murray is all limbs with great lateral quickness and plenty of hops. He’s starting to realize the advantages those physical attributes give him. The physical attributes of Murray are a welcomed addition to a starting lineup that is currently missing arguably the best two way player in the game Kawhi Leonard. Leonard’s intangibles covered up the defensive struggles of Tony Parker and Patty Mills, both of which are offensive oriented point guards.
Murray has shown that despite his shooting issues he can be an effective force on the offensive end as well. Murray is becoming adept at making the right pass in pick-and-roll situations, whether that’s a pocket dish to a big or a kickout to a spot-up shooter. He collapses the defense pretty well, even though he often can’t take advantage of it. Murray also has the ability to work in transition, never afraid of turning on the afterburners after grabbing a defensive rebound, which he grabs a lot of.
The Spurs go about their business so quietly that most of the league has failed to notice that they have successfully drafted and developed some very promising prospects. Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes and Murray have filled in roles while better known players like Manu Ginobli, Rudy Gay and Tony Parker have spent time on the injured list or have been ineffective.
At 21 years old, Murray’s offensive game needs a bunch of work, but as he continues to stuff the stat sheets Murray will establish himself as the next great Spur. Great franchises know how to stay relevant at the game evolves. The San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich have transitioned from the Tim Duncan era and begin to march forward with young talent.