Dejounte Murray Season Preview: What to expect from him

The San Antonio Spurs had one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and with that they selected a 19-year old freshman from the University of Washington, Dejounte Murray.

At the time of the Spurs selection, you may or may not of known whom Murray was. This also may have brought up the question on, who is Dejounte Murray?

Dejounte [ De-jun-tay] Murray is yet another highly touted prospect who hails out of Seattle, Washington (known for producing players like Brandon Roy, Avery Bradley, and current Celtic Isiah Thomas). Murray was voted “Mr. Washington Basketball” his senior year at Rainer Beach High School. If the name Rainer Beach rings a bell, it is because of notable NBA talents such as Doug Christie, Nate Robinson, and Jamal Crawford.

In his one and only season with the Huskies, he averaged 16.1 points, six rebounds, and four assists a game, and made second team All Pac-12.

He set the team record for assists in a season by a freshman, and made the conference’s All Freshman team.

What is his skill set?

Murray’s ball handling skills have allowed him to consistently get to the rack. This is an area where the Spurs could use a player as Murray on the team who creates his own shot and can finish at the rim.

He is a 6-foot-5 super athletic guard, with a 6-foot-10 wingspan. Scouts say that he is tough and that  rebounds well for his position (Murray once amassed 30 boards in a high school game).

April 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) move the ball against Portland Trail Blazers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Who does he remind people of?

With his crafty handles and creative finishes, the name most people bring up is Los Angeles Clippers Jamal Crawford (Crawford incidentally, is a mentor to Murray). In my mind, Murray’s long body frame and ability to finish in traffic, harks back even further to former NBA great Stacey Augmon; a taller guard with similar hops and handles.

Where will he play this year?

In year’s past, drafting a 19-year-old in the first round would be considered risky, but it seems like a no-brainer if a player as athletic as Murray falls to the 29th pick. Arguably, any team drafting from the 13-28th spots would have benefited from taking that chance.

The early knock on Murray is that his decision-making has been spotty, and that his jump shot needs some doctoring. The Spurs are hoping Chip Engelland can produce results similar to the magic he worked with Kawhi Leonard; draft pick whose shooting has improved every season that he has been in the league.

If Spurs fans can recall Kyle Anderson’s rookie season, I predict Murray’s will parallel Anderson’s year. I think Murray will realistically see action in 12-20 games, and spend the majority of the season with the Austin Spurs in the D-League. Barring unforeseen injuries, Tony Parker, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Jonathan Simmons, and Danny Green will get the bulk of the minutes this year. It is hard to envision Popovich wasting a season with Murray riding the pine, when he could be getting serious burn in the Developmental League.

Where does he fit in the scheme of things?

That is a great question. Though Murray played well during the summer leagues, he committed a lot of turnovers–a huge no-no for NBA point guards.

With his size and athleticism, Murray is potentially a two guard in the league, as long as his defense and shooting continue to improve. Green is already 29 years old, and guards age fast in this league.

By next season, Murray could be giving Green a run for his position. It is also conceivable that Murray becomes the next Manu super sub, who comes off the bench and runs the second unit as the primary ball handler.

Should I buy his jersey today?

You should if you are the type of person to buy basketball jerseys. In all probability, this is the best NBA situation for Murray to fall into. Playing in San Antonio will allow him to develop on a realistic time-table, and without the distractions that can befall a player in less functional organizations. He might not be ready this year, but Murray could be key contributor as early as next season.

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