If you think you’ve seen the best of San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, you’re sorely mistaken. The 24-year-old is just getting started.
Getting back into playing shape after being sidelined from an ACL tear is a devastating process that many players cannot make it back from. San Antonio Spurs starting point guard Dejounte Murray is built differently from the rest. His heart and work ethic guide him in everything he does to progress his career as a professional basketball player.
This season, Murray put together a commendable effort. Now 24-years-old, Murray averaged 10.9 points on 46.2 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from deep. He set career-highs in minutes per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and steals per game. When translated to a per 100 possessions rate, it’s plain to see that his output in both steals and assists — The most important stat categories for the young guard — Is higher than ever before.
Keep in mind that the first year back from the injury he suffered is usually a difficult one. When Bulls guard Zach LaVine tore his ACL in Minnesota, he played just 24 games the following season and saw all of his averaged dip. The next year, LaVine bounced back as a 23.7-point per game scorer while setting some career-highs of his own.
Other great players who tore their ACLs and bounced back after a lengthy recovery process are Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick Rose, Bernard King, Jamal Crawford and Rajon Rondo. Once a career-ending injury, the torn ACL is an unfortunate part of the game that’s oftentimes a result of a player giving maximum effort. However, it’s not a death sentence and in most cases, it takes players about a year after the injury to get back to the best of their ability.
This season was only a sneak preview of what Murray can do. Though he struggled at times in the Orlando restart, Murray showed flashes of his upside as a floor general, defensive menace and stat sheet stuffer for the silver and black. That jump shot still needs work and his overall basketball IQ needs to improve with time, but Murray is a legitimate shot-creator at this stage of his career. That was something that concerned fans when he took the starting job from Tony Parker what feels like many moons ago.
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By this point, Murray is getting a better understanding of how his scoring threat and wide-ranging skillset can benefit the team. He’s more likely to slash to the basket and kick out to a teammate when help defense arrives. Murray never fears a defender when attacking the rim, absorbing contact and getting to the free-throw line (where he’s improved dramatically) or finishing despite his defender’s best efforts.
Confidence is everything — Especially when coming back from such a significant injury. At times throughout the season, we could see that Murray’s confidence was fractured; even when his demeanor didn’t show it. Anyone who spent the last four years of Spurs basketball has seen that competitive fire that Dejounte carries with him.
The San Antonio Spurs signed him to a four-year contract extension before the season began to tell him that they believe in him. No matter what injury came his way, the Spurs and Dejounte Murray have a symbiotic relationship. He’s been a mentor to younger players and has displayed veteran leadership with players who are a decade older than he is.
Murray is a wise soul, a competitive athlete and a dedicated workhorse. This past season, Murray only showed a fraction of what he’ll bring to the San Antonio Spurs.