The narrative behind Dejounte Murray in his NBA career so far has been, “The kid is a physical freak and if he can develop a consistent jumper, look out NBA”.
Last season, Murray’s offensive game was lacking mostly due to his lack of a consistent jumpshot. Defenders often went under screens, opting to give him open looks from mid-range to keep him from being able to successfully drive to the basket. And with the exception of a handful of games, this strategy was usually very effective in limiting his offensive role greatly.
This, however, did not go unnoticed to Murray. Almost immediately after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors, he was back on the basketball court. Since then he has worked day and night on developing a consistent jumper so that he can take on a bigger role offensively.
We’re only one preseason game into this new year and Dejounte Murray has already made it a point to showcase the newest addition to his game. When operating as the primary ballhandler in the pick-and-roll, Murray pulled up with confidence and drilled a pair of mid-range jumpers.
Murray also fired from beyond the arc without hesitation when he was left open. Although he didn’t make his only attempt from deep, this is a very encouraging sign as his shooting form looks much improved and he is taking what the defense gives him and he is taking it with confidence.
If Murray can continue to knock down open shots when the defense gives them to him, it will open up the entire offense for the Spurs. It will open things up for LaMarcus Aldridge in the pick-and-pop as defenses will no longer be able to focus solely on Aldridge. It will also help space the floor for DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge to do what they do best, as defenses will no longer be able to leave Murray open in order to help defend DeRozan and Aldridge in the post.
Kawhi Leonard may be an unpopular name in San Antonio right now but Murray’s development so far has actually been very “Leonard-esque”. Much like the former Spur, Murray has established himself as a premier perimeter defender and is now starting to open up his offensive game.
If his offseason and preseason so far is any indication, expect Murray to take a much larger role on offense this season. We are still only in the preseason and have only seen a glimpse of Murray’s new shot, but so far it looks like the kid has a jumper, and that should terrify the rest of the league.