Dejounte Murray Analysis
I wrote about Murray a couple of months ago when he announced he was coming out of UW after his freshman year and the mistake I thought he was making. This is less about his decision to come out (which was financially a good one no question) and more about his game, the world of pre-draft analysis and pre-draft analysts as well as thinking about the modern basketball prodigy and how the coaches they play for and the environment of youth basketball in this country have a major impact on their development.
Reason for Writing
As a giant UW Basketball fan I watched every second of every game and often times watched games multiple times. The team was incredibly exciting, but also incredibly frustrating. The talent that was so apparent rarely came together for full games, let alone a multi-game stretch of the season. There were a lot of reasons for that, but I think Dejounte Murray was a big part of that.
I watched him more intently than any other Husky. He was a hometown kid who from all reports was a terrific young man and a tremendously talented player. He was also a Husky- there was never a doubt where he was going to play college ball. The Huskies were his team and he wasn’t shy about that. As a fellow fan I loved that about him.
As a basketball aficionado though, watching him play basketball was a painful experience. For every lovely pass he would throw, floater he would swish and rebound he would grab there would be an insanely errant lob attempt, an airballed three and an embarrassingly poor defensive effort just around the corner. Its a tough balance as both an undying Husky fan and a basketball purist. I loved the ability to create off the dribble and get into the lane, but I hated a 29% three point shooter firing up 4 a game. I loved the speed he played with on offense, especially in the open court, but I loathed the all too common zero idea of what was going on defensively. What drove me the most crazy was the multiple instances in which he would just give up defensively when stuck on a switch with the opposing team’s big.
I wrote a lot about Murray on Husky message boards and was castigated for daring to bring up a University of Washington player’s shortcomings. When I started posting my concerns I was told I was full of crap- just making things up. So then I started to include GIFs with my posts to illustrate my posts. Those posts were met with the idea I was “cherry picking” tiny parts from games with 100 possessions. So then I started to post GIFs from multiple games throughout the season to drive the point home. Eventually people just stopped reading them. Either they weren’t interested in that kind of analysis of one of their dudes (he was MY dude too!), or they weren’t interested in having their assumptions and posts be refuted by good old fashion video in the form of GIFs.
This bothered me for a bit- why can’t anyone else see this? Not only fans, but the coaching staff as well. Why are these kinds of things happening in game 30 of the season?
I figured that surely my analysis would be corroborated by the basketball Drafteratti when they started to dive into their analysis. They would see these “efforts” and question Murray’s toughness, his lack of defensive interest and his apparently lacking will to do whatever was needed to win. And this is before even mentioning the historically awful efficiency numbers. Slam dunk case I thought- those message board morons don’t know what they are talking about. Chad Ford will be on my side. He will absolutely agree with my analysis and GIFs! Chad Ford is smart unlike these morons on the message board. Chad Ford will have my back, they’ll see!
This was the case for the first few months of the draft preparation season. Murray floated between the lower first round and mid second. There were a few mocks with him in the mid first round and a couple with him going drafted altogether.
But then something crazy started happening. Out of nowhere Murray started rocketing up draft boards. First it was widely assumed he had received a first round promise which is why he skipped doing anything at the combine. Philly seemed to be the most obvious promise destination, but over the next couple of weeks it seemed a pipe dream that he would last until picks 24 or 26 when Philly would take him.
He was apparently playing great in workouts, impressing folks at every stop. Talk of his truly awful shooting percentages had ceased. His lack of giving a crap defensively was merely a function of being young and inexperienced. The whole narrative was turned on its ear. One high profile member of the Drafteratti said about Murray at the beginning of April “He can be wild and his jump shot is erratic. He has star potential, but could also be a bust.” That same fella said in the last week “If Dejounte Murray played at North Carolina or Duke, he’d be a top-five pick.” What the hell is going on??? Who said this??? Where are my intelligent basketball minds to back up my insights? I backed them up with GIFs and everything! Who in the world would say Dejounte Murray, MY Dejounte Murray, would be a top 5 pick if he played for one of college basketball blue bloods? What idiot would possibly say that?
Chad Ford said that?!?! The Chad Ford that was supposed to back up all of my genius observations? He said that Dejounte Murray would be a top 5 pick if he went to Duke or UNC?
What the hell is going on? I need to re-evaluate everything. I thought I had a solid understanding of the game. I knew my knowledge was much higher when talking about high school and college basketball as opposed to the NBA. But I have been watching a lot of NBA recently, breaking down NBA possessions, reading a lot about the NBA, writing about the NBA. I never had any crazy thoughts that I was Jonathan Tjarks or anything. But I certainly was much closer to Chad Ford’s basketball intellect than suckafartoutofmybutt on the Husky message board was. Right? Right?
Wrong. Apparently. I have to rethink everything. So that is why I am writing this again. And thinking about it from a different place. I doubt I am going to come to a different conclusion as the first time around, but I am perfectly willing to look at the faults in my logic according to the Drafteratti who have decided Dejounte is the next Dwayne Wade.
I also need a quick disclaimer: This is not an attempt to “hate” on Dejounte Murray in the slightest. I have issues with his game and wish he did certain things better so the Huskies would have won more games, but I also hope he is in fact the second coming of D. Wade. I hope I am the wrongest wronger of all the wrongers in my analysis. I will be his biggest NBA fan. I will root for him no matter where he goes. One of my sons will be wearing his NBA jersey by Christmas time. Unless he goes to the Thunder. If he ends up in OKC than all bets are off and I take back every well wish I sent his way.
Just kidding. Sort of. Eff the Thunder!
Analysis of Murray’s Game
I have mostly the same complaints about Murray’s game as the rest of the world. He’s a crappy shooter, he makes poor decisions in almost all phases of the game and he’s at best a disinterested defender. I also love what everyone else loves about him- love his off the dribble game and his floater, love his length and creativity, love his flair and style. He also has one of the best noses for the ball I have ever seen. And, something I think that is underrated in when players get evaluated- it seems like his teammates love playing with him. I have a few more complaints that I will dive into: shot selection, understanding your weaknesses + coming to terms with them + avoiding them at all costs, his possible phobia when it comes to touching players wearing different color jerseys and what seems to be his constant need for instant gratification at all times on the floor.
Historically Awful Shooting
It is no secret that Murray is a poor shooter. It’s gonna be the first sentence of his basketball obituary. Under 30% from three for the season and right around 65% from the free throw line. As a two guard/combo guard in the NBA you are going to have a tough time getting on the floor unless you are a knockdown shooter and/or a lockdown defender- we will get to defense in a second. While the shooting percentages are a great concern, his shot selection and what appears to be an unrealistic opinion of his shooting ability is perhaps more troubling. The knock on him has always been his shooting. And he proved that concern correct all season long. That still didn’t stop him from taking 3.5 three pointers a game.
The sheer volume of threes Murray took wasn’t the only issue. His shot selection was also poor when he wasn’t attacking the paint. Not only did he take way too many three pointers he took way too many of them early in the shot clock. See my remote control graveyard for my thoughts on his awful habit of contested long twos in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock.
Take a look at this clip- this is in the Huskies second to last game of the year. You would think shots like these would be completely expunged from his selection at this point in the year. But nope. A long, basically impossible two, off the dribble, with a man in his face, with 25 on the shot clock.
One could ask when this shot would ever be appropriate. And one would be right. What is disturbing about this is it is happening in game 33. And the guy shooting it is widely thought to have- and rightfully so- a high basketball IQ.
These kinds of shots are why Dejounte shot just 46% from two point range during his only season with the Huskies. And these kinds of shots, the off the dribble variety, are something that Dejounte was exceptionally terrible converting. Off the dribble for the season Murray was 15/59. That’s a tick over 25%. That’s terrible. Just awful.
One of my favorite basketball writers- and University of Washington graduate Kevin Pelton, had this to say about Dejounte’s projected NBA shooting numbers: Murray’s projected .458 true shooting percentage would become the worst for any first-round pick in my database.
Read that again: Murray’s projected .458 true shooting percentage would become the worst for any first-round pick in my database. (emphasis mine)
Remember above when I talked about Murray’s shooting being historically bad? Yeah- this is what I was talking about.
Dejounte Murray is not a dumb basketball player. Not at all. Lorenzo Romar and his staff at UW aren’t dumb coaches. So why in the world is he shooting this shot, this far into the season? Maybe I am putting too much importance on this one shot. I have been known to blow trivial things out of proportion in my life. But I can’t get over the fact that this shot- never mind all of the dire statistics- was even thought of by Murray. I don’t think it means he is dumb. I don’t think it means he is selfish. But I do think it shows that he has no idea of just how bad of a shot this is, nor how bad of a shooter that HE is. That is a dangerous thing. Yes, you should shoot the ball with confidence any time you put it up. But you also need to have a modicum of discretion in your shot selection. Or at least more than a Michael Scott level of self awareness about your limitations.
The bigger problem is that he took these kinds of shots over and over again this year. This is exactly what the NBA does NOT want. Look at Buddy Hield’s shot chart from last year. Notice how few shots are taken from outside the paint and inside the three point line. This is how you shoot 50% from the field. Well this and being an exceptionally good shooter.
The math has won. Mid range jump shots are the least beneficial shots in the game. Contested mid range shots off the dribble are almost never the right decision. Contested, mid range shots off the dribble, with 26 on the shot clock? Those are death.
Yet, according to Hoop-Math an astounding 40% of Dejounte’s shots this year were categorized as 2 pt jump shots. But when you shoot a blistering 34% on such shots, why would you scrub them from your game? Sorry, that was sarcastic. FYI- Buddy Hield also struggled on 2 pt jump shots shooting just 32% on them. You know why he struggled? Because they are the hardest, and naturally least productive, shots on the floor! The difference is that while these kinds of death shots represented 40% of Murray’s total shots (194 of them on the season, or nearly 6 per game), they only accounted for 18% (108 of them on the season, or 3 per game) of Buddy’s total shots.
One more thing on this topic: this is not meant as a personal dig about Murray: But for all of the basketball IQ that he shows on the floor and from what his coaches say about him he is very bright. Why on earth would someone who has been portrayed as a basketball savant continue to take so many shots a game that he doesn’t shoot well? As opposed to doing the thing he does better than virtually anyone who has ever played at Hec Ed-attack the lane? I just don’t get it. Perhaps he was trying to show the scouts he had those shots in his bag? I don’t get it.
Efficiency or Lack Thereof
The fact that Murray led the Pac 12 in turnovers is in itself not that big of a deal. The best playmakers often have a lot of turnovers. But it is curious that even as the secondary ball handler and creator for his team he led the conference.
The poor shot selection, which had a lot to do with the poor shooting percentage, combined with the turnover numbers meant that Murray had one of the least efficient seasons of a high profile, early entrant guard in the recent history. I have looked and looked and I can’t find a comp to match his inefficiency. It’s staggering.
From 2010–2013 there were 13 total freshman guards drafted in the first round. 3.5 a year. That’s it. Of those 13, you could classify 4 of them as combo guards: Cory Joseph, Austin Rivers, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley. How do you think Murray’s freshman season compares to theirs? If you guess not great, you would be correct.
He is by far the worst overall shooter of that group. Avery Bradley’s the second lowest and his effective FG% was 48.9%, Murray’s 45.1%
He is by far the worst three point shooter of that group. Austin Rivers is the second lowest and his three point % was 36.5%, Murray’s is 28.8%
He has the second highest turnover percentage only Bledsoe’s was higher.
Here’s the troubling part: He was BY FAR the least efficient of this group. His points per possession is a shockingly low .87. The next lowest is Bledsoe at .91. His win share is also BY FAR the lowest at 2.8. Bradley is the next lowest at 3.2.
Here’s the capper- despite this lack of efficiency, Murray’s usage rate (possessions a player uses- end with shot or turnover or foul) is the highest at 25.9%. Rivers is right behind him at 25.2%.
So not only is he the least efficient offensive player on this list, he is using more possessions than any of them. How does this make sense? The guy on your team with the highest usage rate should not be the absolute worst in terms of production of those possessions.
Here is where those guys were drafted: Rivers 10, Bledsoe 18, Bradley 19, Joseph 29.
Rivers was on his way out of the league, but his dad coaches the Clippers and I’m sure Mama Rivers wasn’t gonna let her boy end up on the Canton Charge so they threw him a life raft. River’s rookie year was one of the worst offensive seasons for a guard in the history of the league. He was way, way negative in terms of value over replacement player. He has been negative in that calculation his entire career. And that is Murray’s best comp of this group. I am not positive, but I don’t think Murray’s dad is working his way up the NBA coaching ladder.
Cory Joseph has carved himself a nice career as a backup combo guard. He has a league average PER and is solid on both sides of the ball.
Bledsoe and Bradley are borderline all-stars, but both are much, much better athletes than Murray and both made their names on the defensive side of the ball first. We will get to defense shortly in regards to Murray. Newsflash- it doesn’t get better on the other side of the ball.
Let us reset for a second- Murray is a tantalizing prospect with a world of potential and basketball instincts that are rare in a player of his age. He has some all world abilities on the floor, no question. He has a perfect combo guard frame, his length is lovely, his charisma is undeniable.
But look at the things we can measure. Read again what master of all things analytics Kevin Pelton said about Murray’s projected NBA shooting. Well you don’t have to scroll up, I will paraphrase: it’s the worst. Not only the worst in this draft. Or last year’s draft. Or this decade’s drafts. Or the drafts of this millennium. Nope. THE. WORST EVER.
Just for fun, let’s check in with that turncoat Chad Ford and see what he has to say about Dejounte’s shooting. This should be good. I can’t wait to see the turn of phrase Chad comes up with describing this calamity…
“His decision making and shooting needs work.” That’s it? Surely that can’t be it. “His jump shot is streaky.” Streaky? Seriously, Chad? The player who effectively broke Master Pelton’s computer with his shooting numbers is merely streaky? Ford and Pelton still work together at ESPN, right? What’s that? Pelton and Ford work together on the NBA Draft preparation? They have on the record conversations for all to read online? One of the two guys in those conversations says Murray’s shooting woes are the worst he has ever seen. The other guy says he is “streaky?” What the hell is going on? I’m getting a divorce lawyer to work up the papers. Chad and I are at irreconcilable differences. What is concerning is that I am not only worried he is being dishonest with me, but he is being dishonest about everything with me!
Here is a screenshot of Chad listing Murray’s strength and weaknesses. I’m getting woozy now. Nothing makes sense anymore.
Not an ELITE shooter? Not Elite? What does that mean? He’s a step below elite? I’m seriously going through the thesaurus looking up synonyms for elite to try and find what word would be a step below elite. Because according to Chad, Dejounte Murray is not an elite shooter so he must be a step below elite, right? I mean, if he thought he was just an average shooter, he would have written “average shooter.”
Maybe it would help if I made a scale and labeled the scale:
If I am taking Chad at his word, and why shouldn’t I…he is CHAD FORD, Murray is “not an elite shooter.” I find it very interesting that “elite” was the only adjective he would use to describe his shooting. He could have written: average, above average, below average, poor, improving, struggling, streaky, progressing. Really any of those would have been more descriptive than saying Murray is not an “elite” shooter.
By saying he is not “elite” Chad is inferring that Murray is close to elite. At least that is how I read it. If he meant to say Murray was just an average shooter he would have said that, right? Or maybe below average shooter? All of those descriptions would still pale in comparison to what Master Pelton’s Magic Machine had to say about Murray’s projected NBA shooting:
Now that you have the visuals to help give you a better understanding of the differences between Ford’s characterization of Murray’s shooting as “not elite” and Pelton’s Magic Machine characterization as “the worst thing I have ever seen in my life” I am going to let you have a minute to digest it. Ask yourself this question- What the hell is going on?
I don’t want to go into any conspiracies here, but something is up with Ford. This is different than changing draft boards years after they happened. This almost feels like collusion between himself and Rich Paul. As far as I can tell sparks from Murray’s rapid ascension was caused by a match that Ford left. Once he became a believer in Murray- whether that was an organic conversion or not is unknown- others started to get on board. Mock draft boards started changing. Murray surged dozens of spots in just a few days. Again, perhaps this was the result of some awesome workouts. David Locke saw him workout and raved about him. Perhaps there are no improper motives at play.
The thing that leaves me the most puzzled is our savior Kevin Pelton’s almost extreme silence on Murray. Pelton is a Seattle resident. He was at a lot of the Huskies games this year. He has most likely seen Murray live more than any other draft analyst. Yet, outside of his stat projections I can find very little opinion attributed to him regarding Murray. I understand that Pelton is more numbers based vs opinion based, but he has a unique perspective about Murray since he has seen him so many times.
Perhaps the fact that he has seen him so many times he has recused himself so he doesn’t appear biased? I am fairly sure Pelton has done some work with the University athletic department over the years and perhaps he doesn’t want to step on any toes and give anything more than what his Magic Machine spits out.
Whatever it is- it’s weird. Pelton and Ford have a prospect list that combines the player’s statistical rankings (Pelton) with the Big Board (Ford) rankings. This is of course Insider so off limits to the peasants. It’s your lucky day I am going to share some of it. Simmons is first on the list of the combined rankings. His stat rank is 7 and his big board is 1. Bender is second- stat rank 2, big board 6. Way down at the bottom of the top 30 is our man, Dejounte Murray. He checks in at #28. His big board ranking- 9. His statistical ranking- 59!!! That is a 50 slot difference!
Now there are players on here with a large divide between their statistical rank and their big board rank. However, they almost always go opposite of Murray. He is ranked massively higher by Ford vs Pelton and the Magic Machine. Almost every other discrepancy is the result of the stats being way higher on a player than Ford and his Big Board. Coincidentally Murray’s teammate Marques Chriss is one of the other outliers who is much higher on Ford’s board vs Pelton’s Machine. Stats have Chriss at #32, while Ford as him at #5. That is a 27 spot difference. Pretty big. Yet only have as big as the difference between the board and stats on Murray.
NOTE- The stat rankings is NOT a Donald Trump supporter. It L-O-V-E-S the foreign players much more than the domestic fellas. The stats have Zhou Qi as the #1 overall guy while Ford has him at 49. The Magic Machine did get fooled a couple of times. Both Fred Vanvleet and Gary Payton II get much higher marks from the stats than from Chad. I’m guessing it is because the Magic Machine refuses to believe that an American parent has named their child Fred or Gary in the past 25 years.
Defense, physicality, toughness, lateral quickness
There are some pretty damning clips below so I feel like I must repeat this: this post is not a referendum on Murray as a player. Just because I show him playing poor defense in these clips doesn’t mean I don’t think he is a spectacular player in other aspects of the game. Nor do I think he doesn’t have all the tools to be an at least average defensive player. But, while these clips aren’t exhaustive of him as a defensive player I think they are absolutely representative of how he played defense this year and where he is defensively as a player at this point.
As I have also mentioned previously, I am not putting this on Murray’s shoulders alone. Yes, he should work harder. Yes, he could be tougher. Yes, he can get stronger. But it is painfully clear that he just hasn’t been coached much in his entire basketball career. And I am not exempting Romar and the current staff. These clips were taken from a variety of games this year, including the last four games of the season. This begs the question: Do Romar and his staff watch film? Do they watch film with the players? Do they cover these sorts of lapses in practice? It’s unfathomable that some of these mistakes can continue to happen all season long. Why is he having the same issues in game 34 as he was having in game 1? I will be talking a bit more about this in another section.
Murray was just not a good defensive player for the Huskies. In fact he was bad. His steal rate is the only thing that saves him from being tremendous.
Yes, he is young and lots of young guys have issues defending at this level especially off the ball and dealing with on ball screens. But the really concerning part for Murray is that he doesn’t appear to be laterally quick.
On Ball Defense
Lack of lateral quickness is a killer in the NBA. Now, there is a really high chance he has not been taught properly or been asked to try harder, but there are lots and lots of examples of him getting blown by:
This is Elgin Cook at 6–6, 200 pounds. Unranked in top 100 seniors by Draft Express. Terrible first step by Murray. Shows zero lateral explosion.
This is the same set against Oregon at the Pac 12 tournament. This set is something I am positive UW watched on film, went over at walk through, etc. Watch Murray just whiff. Totally bent over at the waist- no sign of a stance, no sign of explosiveness. Everyone’s new favorite Marques Chriss bails him out with the rejection.
Murray on an island here and just has zero chance of staying in front. Why are people thinking he can guard an NBA point guard?
One crossover and its lights out- notice the lack of stance and lateral quickness. My favorite part is where he starts clapping at the beginning of the clip- “yeah- let’s go! Wait, where did he go?”
This is Bennie Boatright. He is 6–10. And he gets by Murray with zero resistance. Cool closeout to stance here.
Guarding on balls is required for NBA guards- this is not gonna cut it. This is terrible technique. Just horrible.
He actually does a decent job of getting in front of the ball here. But one crossover and its lights out.
Crossover = night night. Much respect for the defensive spin move though. Has to be confusing for the offensive player- you just don’t see that everyday.
The USC game was not Murray’s finest hour. What the heck is this?
Off the ball this time. Watch the urgency, watch the route. Not good.
Crossover = game over. He jumps out of the way.
I have no words for this one. Maybe you will have a good explanation? Or at least funny?
Jab step mine as well have been a jab punch based on how far it knocks him off balance.
Off Ball Defense/General Awareness
Just like in the on ball clips above, off the ball Murray kept making the same mistakes over and over again. He would either ball watch and not see his man, or he would stare at his man and not see the ball, or he would wander. The wandering was the most annoying to me. He would constantly gamble, cheat and float to try and get steals. That might have worked in the famed Seattle Metro league, but it doesn’t in the Pac 12. And surely won’t in the NBA.
All of these issues are correctable which is the good news. The bad news is that none of them were corrected in 34 games and countless practices. The way that teams in the new NBA have their guys moving without the ball there is zero chance he can survive with this sort of defense.
Not seeing the ball is a really bad habit for Murray. In the above clip the player with the ball could literally throw the ball off the back of his head and he would never know it was coming. Point those pistols man! To be fair to Murray some of this is attributed to the Husky’s constant switching and having to make eye contact with a teammate on the switches.
Another example of no awareness of where the ball is and having his back turned to it. Dribble drives right at Murray’s back and Murray doesn’t even notice until it is too late.
Ball watching was also a major issue for Murray. This would happen every game- he would stare at the ball with no clue where his man was.
Here against ASU is a good example. It only takes him half a second to lose his focus and watch a pass entered to a post. As soon as his head turns the Sun Devil back cuts to a layup.
Against Arizona he is two passes away after getting switched onto Ryan Anderson on a switch. Murray is watching the ball and unaware of a cutting Anderson.
Here we see Murray against Long Beach State completely turning his back to his man and resulting in a layup. This is the Huskies second to last game of the year and yet we see the same issues as the first month of the season.
Once again the ball gets into the paint, Murray forgets he is playing basketball and Dillon Brooks cuts to the hoop for the shot.
Against Oregon in the Pac 12 Tournament Murray actually does a nice job of rotating to help in the paint, but then he rotates to a spot on the floor and loses sight of his man. Results in a wide open corner three.
This is the Huskies last game of the season against San Diego State. Murray starts off OK in his ball side help arrangement here. But as soon as the ball handler hesitates and appears to change sides of the floor Murray loses focus, gets out of stance and his man cuts to the basket with Murray having no clue its happening.
Again, San Diego State in the second round of the NIT. Huskies need to win this game to continue their season. Murray on the ball side, no defensive stance, jumps way too far at what he thinks is help on dribble penetration. Simple back cut and ends with trip to free throw line.
Murray’s game against WSU in Seattle was a masterpiece in defensive ineptitude. In the next section below you will see defensive efforts that led me to think he was pulling a Headache Smith. This is almost the exact same thing as the clip above against SDSU. Ball side, one pass away, lunging at what he thinks is the WSU player going for a handoff or what he thinks is going to be dribble penetration. Result is a basket. Again.
The ball side clips are super concerning. This is basketball 101 stuff. Things Murray has been undoubtedly taught. UW played SDSU in the second round of the NIT which ended up being their final game of the season. The clips against WSU are from their final regular season game of the year- game 30.
The SDSU game was surely filled with NBA scouts. I am positive Murray knew scouts were there. They also needed to win the game to continue their season. Those are a couple of fantastic reasons to try your hardest at all times and perform the defensive fundamentals and skills you have been practicing all season. Didn’t happen.
Now we get to the wandering. This is the most maddening. It shows a lack of not only understanding how to play the game, but also a lack of digging in an committing to a defensive possession. Too often Murray’s wandering was a result of thinking a steal was to be had. There is a fine line here, one that many young players struggle with. The problem is that this kind of mindset gets hammered into a player’s identity and it is a brutally hard habit to break. Especially when the gamble pays off and results in a run out dunk. A 19 year old kid in the moment is not going to be able to extrapolate the risk vs reward in milliseconds and so they’re going to fall back to what comes naturally to them.
A perfect example of this mindset being difficult to shake is former Husky first round pick Tony Wroten. Wroten and Murray are in a fight to cellar of worst defensive Husky guards in my anti-power rankings. This awful defense is one of the reasons Wroten was unemployed for three months of the NBA season. The Knicks signed him at the end of the year although he was never on the active roster. He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season and the Knicks have plans for him to play on their summer league team. One of the Knicks primary concerns about whether to sign him was his defense. Specifically his propensity to gamble defensively.
“The Knicks apparently held reservations in the recent past about Tony Wroten‘s gambling style of defense,” is what the New York Post reported.
Think about that. One tiny facet of Wroten’s defense was the primary basketball reason the Knicks were hesitant to sign him. That is a scary thing to think if you’re Dejounte Murray. You have to think if this gambling mindset is a reason that Wroten stayed on the scrap heap for three months with only the Heat and Knicks even checking in on him.
Let’s go to the clips and see what Murray’s wandering/gambling tendencies look like:
This is an interesting clip. Not a gamble here, just unawareness. Murray initially gets beat off the dribble- please notice the lack of lateral quickness once again. A teammate steps up to help and it turns into a switch. After the switch Murray retreats to an area and actually guesses right as he ends up in front of an interior player. Good instincts there. But he is also in essentially no mans land and he and Chriss end up guarding the same guy. When Chriss’ man pops to the three line Murray should be going with him. But Murray has no idea of what is going on behind him and is stuck with no good answers.
Here is the gambling mindset. Murray makes a senseless gamble on a pass to the high post on the same side of the floor his man is on. 10 out of 10 times the ball is entered to the high post like this the ball side wing is going to back cut. Which is what happens here. Only because it is a crappy pass it doesn’t result in a dunk.
One note about this play: I think that Murray believes this was a good gamble because the play resulted in a turnover. You could argue that Murray’s gamble had an impact on the pass being behind the wide open 49er. Maybe it did. Regardless, it is a poor defensive instinct and one that Murray showed over and over again in his freshman campaign.
Again the WSU game. First he gets beat on middle penetration. He actually takes a good, if not lazy route, to keep the ball in front. Notice again the lack of a stance. Look at Murray once the ball is passed- he just can’t help himself. His first movement is to retreat back to his man, but he just can’t deny the temptation. There is a blackjack table right there he is thinking- he MUST go for the gamble. He gambles and then loses. No steal. Then his man walks down the lane, receives a pass and scores the wide open layup.
I’m worried that after this post the FBI is going to investigate whether Murray “took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it, for what? For what?” I don’t really think that Dejounte was shaving points. I just am hoping for an excuse for the horror show I was watching.
Pac 12 Tournament against Stanford. This is my favorite clip of all of them I think.
The fact that he thinks it is a good idea to chase his man over the potential handoff is poor enough. But the jumping and swiping at the ball of a player he was not guarding, while his man continued on his route to the basket for a layup is hilarious to me. This is the mindset of a cat chasing a laser pointer. The difference is that the cat doesn’t know the laser is not a tangible thing he can’t physically touch. Murray seems to have no clue that this is not a good idea. Remember this is the Pac 12 tournament opener. The Huskies 31st game of the year.
One more thing- don’t point out the score of this game, or any others, and tell me that is an excuse for a lack of basic understanding. I understand if you want to say a lopsided score is responsible for a lack of effort, but not a lack of good and bad technique.
Here is a situation Murray will be in a lot in the NBA- chasing shooters.
Murray starts on the left block here. He turns his head slightly and has no clue that his guy had zoomed to the opposite wing. Murray doesn’t realize where he is until the player is almost two full steps outside the paint. Not good.
Not the WSU game again.
Murray with a mindless gamble here. Not good.
In addition to his lack of keeping the ball in front of him and lack of lateral quickness, he shown over and over a lack of toughness or the will to be physical. Over and over he goes out of his way to avoid contact. I mentioned above a potential phobia he may have when it comes to touching people. Dejounte Murray might be the Howie Mandel of draft prospects.
He wants no business with this guy in the paint. I love the half hearted jump at the end so it still looks like he is trying. Look at Murray avoid touching him at all costs.
This is the same clip as the one at the start of the article. You’re gonna have to scroll up for about 15 minutes to find it, so just trust me. What the heck is going on here? This is troubling if I am an NBA executive. Does he want to compete?
These are all against WSU. I honestly thought he was shaving points. The only thing urgent about his effort here is how urgently he gets out of the way and clears a path to the hoop.
Ugh…same game. Don’t NBA teams want guys who can switch and compete? Look what happens when he gets switched on a big.
Yes, it would be hard to get around. It would be nice if he tried.
Arizona again. This time its Ryan Anderson. Watch how far Murray goes out of his way to not have to be physical. Why are his hands up? What is he thinking? He certainly can try harder than this, right?
This one is actually interesting because you can kind of see his mind work. He knows he should be rotating to the big, but watch him shuffle his feet so that it appears if he goes for the steal and doesn’t get it, it would be OK. And watch how high he goes over the defender to try to tip the pass. So bizarre.
This kind of thing happened a lot this year. Watch how he “contests” the drive. He appears to be getting to help- but look at the way he jumps. He is not interested in contesting, merely acting like he is. He is actively jumping out of the way. He could have just jumped straight up and contested the shot, but instead jumps literally out of the way. So weird.
Same type of thing as the last one, but here it is the swipe with the hand, and then a half jump. He could have cut off the baseline there no problem. But look at the distance between Murray’s body and the guy with the ball. He is making it a point to not touch him, or even come close to touching him. But also to make it appear that he is trying to do the right thing.
Lets catch our breath and see what Ford has to say about Murray’s defense shall we? It is listed as a strength and says: “Good defender.” I must be losing my mind. How do we judge good?
I’m sure that Ford will see all of these instances of Murray refusing to even touch opposing bigs when he ends up on them after a switch, let alone being physical and fighting his butt off. I can’t believe this! From Ford:
Dejounte Murray Strength: Tough.
Let me save you the melodrama- Chad Ford lists rebounding as a strength for Murray. His exact words: “Excellent rebounder for a guard.” Obviously I disagree. That’s just where Chad and I are in our relationship. We can’t find any thing we agree about anymore. Here’s where I will defend myself as more than just a contrarian. I don’t think Chad Ford believes Murray is a good rebounder. I think he has done what everyone else has done and looked at the raw numbers and decided, rightfully so, that he is a good rebounder. Well that and writing anything Rich Paul tells him to write.
His statement of the strength has no basis in evidence I would guess. If Ford actually looked at Murray’s rebounding during games he would see that a much more apt description for Murray’s board work would be: Great nose for the ball. No one would debate that. But to see he is an excellent rebounder is to be a victim of counting stats, not reality.
Murray is, in the words of Haralobos (Bob) Voulgaris, a “rebounding whore.” Bob (and other smart basketball people) say that Deandre Jordan of the Clippers has great rebounding numbers because he just runs to the rim when shots are fired and has no interest in boxing out his guy. Because of that his team gives up a lot of offensive rebounds with him on the floor. He contrasted that with Roy Hibbert- when Hibbert was a good player on the Pacers, not the corpse he is with the Lakers. Hibbert had what appeared to be poor rebounding numbers for a center of his size. But what Bob and others found was that Hibbert was more interested in his team getting the defensive rebound, rather than himself. His mission was to keep his guy or anyone on the other team from getting an offensive rebound, not securing it himself. Jordan had far more rebounds than Hibbert, but Hibbert’s team was a much better rebounding team because Hibbert made it a point to not let his guy get the rebound.
Murray is like Jordan. But I don’t think Murray is being selfish and trying to pad his stats. Maybe I am wrong on this, but he doesn’t strike me as that kind of a player. When a shot goes up Murray’s first reaction is to run to the rim, rather than turn and find his guy to block him out. This leads to more individual rebounds for Murray, but also more offensive rebounds for the opponent because there is no one boxing out Murray’s guy. This has happened all year long. And it climaxed in the Huskies second round Pac 12 Tournament game against Oregon with him doing the same thing he has done since November- seeing a shot go up and wandering towards the rim.
This is where a GIF would be illustrating my point, but I can’t find it. Sorry about that. Lets see if my words suffice in terms of an explanation:
Huskies vs Ducks, 2nd round of Pac 12 Tournament. Huskies need to win the tournament to assure themselves of a ticket to the Big Dance. They came out strong and were up by double digits in the first half. Gradually the Ducks exerted their will and took their own double digit lead in the second half. The Huskies chipped away though. A Murray dime ending with a Chriss dunk made it a two point game with just 90 seconds to play. Next Oregon turnover the Huskies force a turnover and have the ball with a chance to tie the game with 1:20 to play. Chriss gets the ball on a post up and turns to dunk, but dunk is partially blocked and Oregon tracks down the rebound.
Here is the part about Murray not rebounding. Oregon controls the ball until 4 on the shot clock when Dillon Brooks takes a three. Because Murray has apparently never been taught to find a body first, crash second, once Brooks shot the three Murray made a bee line to the rim. Of course that meant no box out on Duck Tyler Dorsey whom Murray was guarding. And of course that meant that Dorsey secured the offensive rebound with no resistance from Murray who seemed to forget that the other team has an incentive to get rebounds as well. Murray fouled Dorsey who made both free throws and Ducks won by 6.
This was the Huskies 32nd game of the year. A game they had a chance to win against a team who ended up being a 1 seed in The Dance. But the instinct of running to the ball, as opposed to the technique of finding a body first and then running to the ball, cost them a chance to tie or take the lead in the final 30 seconds. And get to the semifinals of the tournament and one step closer to getting the tourney invite. I should mention that Murray had 12 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists and only 1 turnover in this game. But when the time came where he needed to be solid and box out his guy in the biggest defensive possession of the season his instinct took over.
Here is a clip against ASU:
The first thing Murray does is swipe at the ball handler and turn his back on his defender. Than watch what happens when the shot goes up. Murray is nowhere near a box out. And frankly has no idea where his man is after he turned his back on him.
Official actually calls a foul on the Arizona player- a terrible call. Ball goes into the post and again Murray loses sight of his man. But when the shot goes up he sees his man again. Instead of putting a body on him he just wanders to the rim. And gets bailed out with a poor call.
The final minutes of the game at Oregon State is one of the worst losses of the season for UW. Not because OSU was bad, but because they absolutely gave the game away.
Here Dejounte is actually in position to get the rebound. And he even makes a half hearted attempt to push his man out. Would you actually call this a good effort? This is with a bit more than a minute to go and the Huskies leading by 6.
The most bizarre thing is what happens once the ball hits the rim, Murray actually gets out of the way which allows for an easy rebound put back. It seems like he decides that he has had enough of this touching and moves to avoid any more contact with the germ infested humanoid. If that’s not bad enough, notice that the direction he moves- the worst possible direction he can go when thinking about where a rebound is going to come off when a shot is taken from the opposite wing.
Again, Oregon State, inside a minute to go:
Murray actually looks behind him to see where his guy is coming from. And he sees there are two. He actually plays this pretty well. Until the ball comes off the rim. Look at the way he doesn’t attack the rebound. ***Remember this clip when you hear talking heads on Thursday night rave about his rebounding ability***His arms are going towards it, but his body is moving away from it. Again, it looks like he is trying to avoid contact and trying to snare the rebound just using his arms. Rather than attacking the rebound with two hands and making body contact with an opponent.
This was the death knell in the OSU game:
This was the biggest defensive rebound of the game. And Murray let GP2 outwork him for the rebound. Murray starts the possession at the bottom of the screen. Watch Murray’s sight line when the shot goes up- they go straight to the rim. If he would have just put a pinkie on GP2 there is no way he would have been able to get the rebound. Instead GP2’s hustle and effort save the possession for OSU. The Huskies lost this game when OSU made a buzzer beater. Should be noted the buzzer beater was only made after the Beaver player took roughly 13 extra steps after picking up his dribble. Should be noted bonus edition: Murray was guarding the Beaver who made the shot and took the worst route in the history of sports while guarding him.
Just to review- Huskies were leading by 6 with less than two minutes. OSU was able to get offensive rebounds on their last three offensive possessions. And every time Murray was in a position to deny those offensive rebounds and seal the game for the Huskies. None of them were egregious errors by Murray. There was surely some lack of effort and technique, but nothing that made you want to vomit.
However, if Murray is, as Chad Ford puts it: “Excellent rebounder for a guard” he comes up with one of those three.
A couple more. Against Oregon, non Pac 12 Tournament game:
The guy who gets the rebound is not Murray’s man, yet he comes from his area. No turn and look to see if someone is coming. Back turned. Eyes on the rim. Mis-timed his jump. This is what Haralabos is talking about when he says rebounding whore. If Murray boxes out there he probably isn’t going to get the rebound. But his teammate is.
Against Stanford Pac 12 Tournament:
This happened a lot this year. Murray’s guy coming from the perimeter to get a rebound. And Murray has no idea. Shot goes up and Murray watches it as he wanders to the rim. If Murray would have looked and found his box out he wouldn’t have gotten the rebound. But one of his teammates would have.
I understand he is young and still learning and all of the excuses, but come on. This happened all season long. It makes me wonder why Chad Ford, and others, would base their analysis on his rebounding by only looking at box scores and not film.
Lack of Coaching
A lot of this is not Murray’s fault. I am not sure he has ever been taught basic fundamentals and techniques of the game. He played the exact same way in high school at Rainier Beach as he did at UW. Had the same deficiencies in his game and the same strengths. H was borderline unstoppable off the dribble, had a nose for the ball that was unparalleled at the high school and college level, seemed like his teammates liked to play with him and was an eager assist man for a teammates glory. But he was also an indifferent defensive player, especially off the ball. He gambled constantly. He never boxed anyone out. Offensively, he couldn’t shoot and made continuous poor decisions. His penchant for jumping and passing, although lessened in college, was the definition of an awful habit from high school that carried over. These shortcomings he had in high school are exactly the same as they are in college. The difference was that in high school Murray was such a better athlete and player than his competition teams rarely made him pay for the gambles, or lack of box outs. He was always able to create extra possessions for his team either through steals or offensive rebounds.
He had less success in acquiring those extra possessions in college. He will have almost no success in that area in the pros. Yet he was still able to have really great moments in his one college season. Smart basketball people are in love with his game and potential. The consensus is that he might have the highest ceiling out of all the guards drafted.
This leads me back to my final, mercifully I know, point about Murray: I am afraid he has never really been coached before. I am afraid that no one has ever really gotten into him and challenged him. I am afraid every coach he has had has told him how great he is and not sat him down and showed him film of his inadequacies or shortcomings. I am afraid all of his coaches have been more interested in being the friend of a future NBA player rather than his coach. The sad part is that if my fears are correct, the one who loses is Dejounte Murray.
I love Lorenzo Romar. He brought Washington Basketball from the depths of the gallows to seasons of brilliance. This was especially helpful when Tyrone Willingham seemed to be willingly burying the Washington Football program.
But even though Romar has my unending love and respect doesn’t mean I don’t think he isn’t culpable for some of Murray’s issues. When the player is making the same silly mistakes, lacking the same fundamental skills and techniques in game 34 of a college season as he had in high school some of that falls on the coach.
It appears that Romar and his staff didn’t show him any film. Didn’t go over any film breakdown. Didn’t teach him how to block out. Didn’t show him what poor shot selection looks like. Never put together a film reel of all of his successes getting to the basket vs all of his struggles shooting the ball from the perimeter. Never showed him those clips of his embarrassing effort when he got switched on a big. The list of things goes on and on. These people, whether they know it or not, are enabling him.
It is my opinion that every coach he has had has been enamored with his potential and production and either overlooked these deficiencies or were afraid to bring them up with him in a serious way. And that is a shame.
I honestly think that Romar was hesitant to get into him because he knows how much kids in the area, kids that he is recruiting, look up to Murray. He needs to keep Murray on his good side so to speak. I understand that sounds really cynical, but this is college basketball we are talking about.
Think about how many times you saw Romar, or anyone on the staff, really “get into” Murray this year. How many times was he yanked out of the game and given a good tongue lashing? I watched every second of every game multiple times. And I can’t recall one time. He did get yanked a couple of times in the early to middle of the season, but it was never met with an upset coach challenging him. And I think that held back Murray as a player and the Huskies as a team.
The other side of that argument is that he was sat down and showed reels of plays highlighting both the good and the bad, but Murray wasn’t interested in addressing them. This would mean one of two things: 1- His basketball IQ isn’t as high as people say (I don’t believe this) and he failed to translate film study to the floor. Or 2- he isn’t as coachable as everyone has claimed and blew off the teaching that occurred. For the record I don’t believe this either. From everything I have read and heard about him he is a superb young man. Fun to be around, easy to coach, etc. I would find it hard to believe that he was shown even half of the GIFs in this piece and then decided he wasn’t willing to do the extra work to address the weaknesses. That leaves me with thinking that these issues weren’t brought up with him. Or at least not brought up with him in a consistently forceful manner like a coach should be doing.
Murray is going to be the one living with “what-ifs” for the rest of his life. Obviously, he is a grown up (technically) that is going to make his own decisions, but it is clearly obvious that the coaching staff has failed him this year. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have seen an off the dribble, contested long two that hit glass first on the first play of the game against SDSU. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have watched him not even think about boxing out against Oregon in the Pac 12 tournament which led to an offensive rebound and Oregon wrapping up the game. Otherwise we wouldn’t have watched him not even attempt to even breathe on Payton on the absolute play of the Huskies season when GP2 flat outworked him for an offensive rebound that resulted in a basket for OSU and which set up the game winning (albeit horribly officiated) shot. Otherwise we wouldn’t have seen him take the worst defensive route ever while guarding Stephen Thompson bringing the ball up the floor in the final seconds of the Beavers win.
And I am tired of hearing the lack of experience argument. The fact he is just 19 years old. Murray has probably played 100 plus games a year for the past 5 years. When people say that freshman need more experience or seasoning that is true. But it isn’t as close to being true as it used to be. These kids are playing high-level basketball for their entire high school career. Oftentimes, teams they play on the summer circuit are better than some of the teams on their college schedule. Even before playing one game at the college level he has a ton of experience playing against high-level players in big time environments. Especially Murray who attend prestigious camps and events all over the country: Lebron’s camp, Durant’s camp, NBPA camp, various USA Basketball events, etc.
During the season I often thought of former Husky Tony Wroten. If you look at their freshman stats they’re eerily similar. Wroten had this same issue of never really being coached when he entered the NBA. I can remember pre-draft analysis talking about this sort of thing. And then he got drafted by a Memphis team that reached the Western Conference Finals. Coach Lionel Hollins seemed to take one look at him and gave him a coach plane ticket and told him the Reno Bighorns practice is at the Sparks Y tomorrow at 9 am and he needed to be there.
Just three equal parts brilliant and mind bogglingly poor seasons later, Wroten got cut by the worst team in the history of the league. It took three months for him to catch on with another team who didn’t even give him a guaranteed contract. During Wroten’s sabbatical reports surfaced that other than the Knicks (who he would eventually sign with) the Miami Heat were the only team that even checked in about him. That’s it- 2 teams. Now some of that is salary related as a lot of teams didn’t have cap space and signing a waived player in the middle of the year seems (not sure about this) to carry a bigger cap number than what his actual salary is. And some of it is surely injury related as Wroten tore his ACL for the second time in five years.
Regardless of the salary technicalities or injury concerns this is a guy who was consistently ranked as one of the best players in his age group from the time he was about 6 not getting a sniff from 28 NBA teams. This is a guy who prior to tearing his ACL for the second time started the first six games of the 14–15 season on fire averaging 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals while shooting 45% from the field and 38% from three. Even in his final five games before being released this past December he was averaging over 10 points a game and still getting to the line almost 5 times a game. His shooting was terrible and he was turning the ball over like crazy, but he was coming back from a year on the shelf. His activity and ability to break down defenses and get to the line was still there.
Yet nobody wanted him for three months. And when the Knicks finally extended their offer it came with almost no guarantees and the cruel reality that he was going to have to prove in summer league he could still play in the NBA. It was a no risk deal for the Knicks. But Wroten had to accept it because that was the only offer he had.
This is my worry for Murray. It should be said that Wroten was at best prickly with coaches and teammates and that perhaps didn’t endear him to decision makers in the league. Murray is apparently the opposite of that. And if he is drafted in the lottery, as opposed to 25th like Wroten, he is going to get every chance to succeed.
But I keep coming back to the fear that the dye has been cast on Murray in terms of who and what he is as a player. That is totally unfair to say about someone who is still a teenager and the recipient of countless plaudits from coaches he has played for. However, the way that youth basketball is run in this country has made Murray a legit celebrity since he was 12 or 13 years old. For the past 7–8 years my guess is that he has heard nothing but compliments and adoration about his game and his ability.
Those are called formative years for a reason. They form who you become as an adult. It is not only going to be hard, but completely foreign the first time an NBA coach tells him his effort defensively was terrible. Or that he can’t play in this league if he can’t make a jump shot. Or that incessantly gambling for low percentage steals is a surefire way to not only find himself on the bench, but a surefire way for his team to lose games.
The phrase instant gratification keeps coming to my mind when thinking about Murray. And I think those two words could be a descriptor of his playing style at times. Taking three after three, long two after long two, because it is the easy shot. Instead of attacking the lane and doing what he is really good at because that is harder than just shooting the three. Instant gratification as a player for the Huskies this year resulted in 28.8% three point shooting and the most offensively inefficient season of any freshman guard drafted in the first round that I could find. Instant gratification, or maybe more specifically, avoiding things that are hard, led to not being in a defensive stance time after time. Shying away from contact in the paint- to the point of getting out of the way of opposing players time after time. Gambling for steals with no idea where his man is time after time. Refusing to box out and just running to the hoop or watching the shot time after time.
All of these things work together. From the shot selection, to the defensive ineptitude, to the avoidance of physical play. They strike me as someone who wants instant gratification, rather than grinding and improving. To say that a 19 year old kid has a tough time delaying gratification is not earth shattering news or an original idea. But the adults in his life. The coaches in his life. These people are the ones who are letting him down. By either pushing for the instant gratification or not challenging him about shortcomings in his game.
In 34 college games he didn’t provide any evidence that he was either coached on specific things or he just flat out ignored the coaching points. I fear that it was easier for the coaches to not challenge him, keep him happy, have him as an ambassador for the program for years to come and help intrigue future recruits rather than challenge him to improve as a player.
Even the evaluators who are the highest on Dejounte- looking at you Chad!- admit that he is nowhere near ready for the league. He is most likely headed to the D league for long stretches. How is that going to be received by someone who has been the best player on his team, in his league and one of the best in his age group since he was a tween? Teams are going to hope that being a full time basketball player is going to mean improvements to his body, to his technique, to his shooting.
The same thing was hoped for Tony Wroten. But contrary to multiple reports Wroten never improved as a shooter. Never improved his decision making. Stories would flow out of local media every summer about Wroten being in the gym all day long working on his game. It strangely resulted in no progress. Those stories were either lies presented by the player or his camp, or he needs a new trainer. You can’t claim to shoot 500 shots a day every day for 3 months and somehow be a worse shooter at the end.
That is the fate I am worried about for Murray. Beyond the statistics between he and Wroten being so similar, so are the narratives. Beloved schoolboy prodigy stays home to attend hometown university. Both play only one year in college. Both teams underachieve and fail to make the NCAA Tournament. Both players put up truly awful shooting numbers. Both players lead the conference in turnovers. Both players struggle with the finer points of the game and seem to eschew the solid for the showy. Both players show flashes of once in a generation type abilities. Both players struggle, and at times stink, defensively. Both players struggle to make their teammates better on a consistent basis. Both players enter the draft with almost the exact same scouting reports. Seriously- look them up. It’s freaky.
I feel like I have to say this again: nothing I wrote here comes from a place of “hate.” I have no other interests than Dejounte having the best career possible. However, I am overwhelmed with the thought that NO ONE in his life has told him anything other than “you’re the greatest.” The kid is the one who ends up losing in this equation. Because everyone was too polite to tell him he needed to fix these issues in his game.
I want Dejounte Murray to be a multi time all star. I want him to go to the Hall of Fame and rep the 206 and the UW every chance he gets. I want him to be Kyrie Irving part 2. I will be his biggest fan. My concern is that I will be rooting for him through Reno Bighorn boxscores. Or trying to find a translator for stories in the Istanbul Chronicle.
Doing the research for this piece I stumbled across this quote from a guy names Evan Burns. He had a nice freshman freshman year with San Diego State in the early 2000’s and then put his name in for the draft, where he didn’t get drafted:
[Buying into the hype] was my problem. I don’t want to admit it went to my head, but I know it did.
J.J. [Redick] knew exactly what he wanted. He was humble and worked. We were all talking about the NBA and how quickly we were going to get there and he was talking about playing at Duke for four years and getting an education. That’s what he told me and look at him now.
I am not saying that Dejounte Murray is anything like Evan Burns. I have no reason to think that he has bought into his own hype. I just thought it was an interesting take.
I sincerely hope that I am wrong in everything I wrote. Dead wrong. I want to hope that Chad Ford truly believes the things he is writing and saying about Dejounte and he has earned that analysis through his workouts. Not because Ford is doing the publicity for Dejounte’s agent Rich Paul because Ford/ESPN wants/needs access to not only Ben Simmons, but also LeBron who owns the agency that Murray signed with. I don’t want this to be a an exercise in raising his standing with teams because Rich Paul wants him to get drafted higher and has somehow convinced Ford that Murray is as special as he claims.
But I can’t shake the feeling that Ford is being insincere at best. I can’t stop thinking about the Great Kevin Pelton saying that Murray’s shooting projections are the worst in the history of his database. I can’t stop thinking that even after knowing this, Ford says that if Murray played for Duke or North Carolina he would be a top five selection. I can’t stop wondering why I haven’t seen a 3,000 word piece from Pelton about Murray’s historically incompetent shooting efficiency when compared to every other player he has analyzed in his Magic Machine. I can’t stop wondering why the one guy in the Drafteratti who has seen him more than anyone else hasn’t said anything other than he is the worst shooter in the history of his program.
And I can’t stop thinking that Dejounte Murray has no idea about Pelton’s projections. Because no one in his life has told him. I’m sure some have seen the projections, but I highly doubt anyone has told him about it.
However, you can be 100% damn certain that everyone in Dejounte’s life has shown him the quote from Chad Ford about being a top 5 pick if he played at Duke or UNC. And that makes me worried. Worried that he is the next Marquis Teague. Or the next Xavier Henry. Or the next Tyler Ennis. Or the next Omar Cook. Or the next Josh Selby. Or the next Tony Wroten. Especially when it appears his ceiling at this moment is Austin Rivers.
It just makes me sad more than anything else.