After one season at the University of Washington, Dejounte Murray fell all the way to the end of the first round where he landed with the San Antonio Spurs.
It’s only been two games, but Murray has looked great filling in for Tony Parker. Prior to his games against the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers, the former Husky averaged less than six minutes a ball game and was put on the inactive list 13 times.
Parker is dealing with a sprained left foot, and Gregg Popovich gave Murray a large spot in the rotation with almost no reluctance. And it’s paying off. His minutes have skyrocketed during Parker’s absence, and he’s earned the right to start over Patty Mills. Murray saw 34 minutes against Denver, followed by 22 against Cleveland, and, more impressively, he doesn’t look like a rookie.
One of the biggest knocks against the 20-year-old coming out of Washington was his awful efficiency; he shot 41.6 percent from the field and 28.8 percent from three during his only collegiate season. Murray’s been looking for his shot more and more with his elevated role, and he’s buried two-thirds of his attempts during those games. Against the Nuggets, he tallied a career-best 24 on 7-of-11 shooting which included 3-of-5 from three.
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Murray continued his hot shooting on Saturday, where he nailed seven of his 10 shots for 14 points, and he routinely got into the teeth of Cleveland’s defense. He wasn’t able to get all the way to the rim on most of them, but showed a soft touch and finished with an array of floaters. Down the stretch, Murray didn’t play much because of how close the game was, and he played less than 10 minutes in the second half.
He’s still learning how to play defense at a high level, and that contributes to Murray not playing in the latter stages of a close game. Over the last two contests, the Spurs are giving up 112 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, and neither game has featured an extraordinarily fast pace (99 against Denver, 95 in Cleveland). Murry does, however, have everything necessary to be a capable perimeter defender. Along with his height, he’s got a wingspan of almost 6-10 (measured 6-9.5 in 2014) and is an explosive athlete.
For however long Parker is out for, Popovich, once again, has found another player who slides right in seamlessly.
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