Unraveling a Tangle of Dribble Moves
Dejounte Murray is a Slasher’s Delight
Galaxies of hoop talent convene each year for the NBA draft. As prospects await their selection from teams, Adam Silver steps to the podium and reads aloud each of the 30 first round picks. Players don the cap of their new club, make their walk onstage, and shake the commissioner’s hand for the capstone of their basketball careers. With the penultimate pick of this year’s first round, the Spurs selected Dejounte Murray, one-and-done combo guard out of Washington.
Standing 6‘5" and sporting a 6’11" wingspan, the former enables whipped passes over the top of opposing guards, while the latter aids converting his patented floater, disrupting passing lanes, and snatching rebounds. Murray crashed the glass all season with 6 boards a game and had a season-high 13 on a night he went 4–16 shooting from the field against Utah; an indication of the value he can generate elsewhere in the midst of rough shooting nights.
A slasher by nature, Murray often seeks out contact and his instinctive handle put many a Pac-12 defender in a quandary:
Coming off a pin down screen from the right wing, Murray attacks middle, swipes through the defender’s armpit with a behind-the-back dribble, levitates with two hands while attacking the defender’s chest to thwart the shot block, and kisses the rock off the top-right of the square.
From the top of the key, Murray zooms past his man, hop-steps into the paint and whirls the ball around the help defense for the left-hand finish:
High-arcing floater off-the-bounce + Up-&-Under finish in transition:
After the conclusion of the finals and draft, the NBA calendar turns to Summer League (SL) action. A platform for second round picks, undrafted free agents, and careers on the brink to showcase their skills in hopes of inking a deal; which may spawn from an interleague or overseas club.
The apex of most rosters feature their first round draft pick(s), but Murray missed the first two games. To optimize cap numbers amid the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and other marquee names like Pau Gasol, the Spurs held off signing Murray until they had all their free agency answers. Also, signing with Klutch Sports for his pro representation, Murray’s agent, Rich Paul, insisted on having a signed contract before he suited up.
Once signed, he took the hardwood on the third and final day of the Utah SL against the Celtics. Despite the loss, Murray was electric in his debut and finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and an alley-oop slam, courtesy of a Kyle Anderson pinpoint dime:
“I caught my wind the first three or four minutes and got tired real quick,” Murray said after the game. “Coach (Will Hardy) brought me out and let me catch my second wind. After that, I was ready to go for the rest of the game.”
Soon after the draft, assistant coach and renowned shot doctor for the Spurs, Chip Engelland, began ironing out the kinks of Murray’s shot in preparation for SL. A portion of his clientele includes Marco Belinelli, Gary Neal, George Hill, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard.
During his last SL outing, Murray tied the game on two separate possessions against Sacramento in crunch time, forcing overtime and the subsequent victory:
“He’s a pretty supreme talent and a guy who our expectations were to go a lot higher”, Spurs GM R.C. Buford said. “As we worked through the draft we were at a point in time where the group we liked was pretty small, and he had been the head of that group for the whole preparation process. He needs help finishing and from a shooting standpoint he’s gotta get a lot more consistent and disciplined, but this is a developmental piece.”
Murray’s selection is unlikely to fill any immediate needs, however, his skillset and potential down the line, provides the Spurs with a vital launchpad into the future, as Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead the Silver & Black to title contention.
- Alum of Seattle’s Rainier Beach HS along with other past/present NBA players including Doug Christie, Jamal Crawford (his mentor), Nate Robinson, and Terrance Williams.
- Voted the biggest steal of the draft by fellow rookies.
- Tony Parker has one of the league’s deadliest floaters and the continued development of Murray’s will be interesting, as it was his go-to move in college.