My barber mentioned how well Murray played against the Cavs. This is the level we are at with this kid.
Pop called him “too naive to be nervous” but he certainly does not look like the nervous type. If he would be anything, it would be cocky.
That is not uncommon in a league of guys who have good reason to be sure of themselves. They’ve spent much of their lives as The Best Guy On The Floor and only now are encountering situations where that isn’t as true as it once was.
Hopefully that explains a little bit of Dion Waiters, for example.
For Murray, playing on the famously humble San Antonio Spurs team is a good lesson for him. 1
Oh, you are getting to the rim with speed and quickness, mixing a floater with uncanny finishing ability around the rim? Tony Parker knows a little about that.
Oh, you like to jump into passing lanes for easy buckets in transition? Manu Ginobili (and Khawi) know a little about that.
It is great that he has so much confidence, and also great that he has so many players around him that will be slightly unimpressed with all of it. They are free to expect more of him, and that will put a little pressure on him to keep working on his game.
All that said, let us talk about how great he has played.
Spurious is late to the game, but that’s what happens when you read a unprofessional Spurs blog.
Dejounte Murray technically had his coming out party against the Nuggets, accumulating 24 points and breaking Tony Parker’s record for youth 24-scoring. Sure.
What really impressed most folks was the performance in Cleveland on Saturday night (Jan 21st). He attacked Kyrie Irving relentlessly, and scored transition buckets in big minutes.
That is huge but …
… this is a different league than it was in the 1990s. The youngest and best players have been interacting with the best of the best for a while.
It is a little less intimidating to go up against an NBA Legend when you sign with his best friend’s agency and take pics with the King himself.
More impact fully, it is less intimidating when you have played against NBA guys every summer since you were a freshman in High School
Said Murray: “Every team [Crawford] was with, he came back, and he made sure we played pickup to get his high school team ready. Since my freshman year, I was playing with pros like every day in the summer. I knew I could be OK if I stayed working hard every day.
Given his mentorship, and the team structure around him it is no surprise he is playing so confidently.
The fun thing is that he has always played like this. Aside from a sense of professional polish to his game, it is still comprised of the same elements.
Look at him in his lone year with Washington:
Lots of attacking, finishing at the rim with double-pumps, and that flick-of-the-wrist floater.
Here he is scoring 30 for the Austin
Finally here he is attacking Kyrie and the Cavs on Pounding The Rock.
Not a whole lot different there, right? That is a good thing. He is doing what he is comfortable doing, which is not unlike what Tony Parker did when he came into the league. Murray has a height and length advantage that Tony did /does not, and a more consistent jumper to boot.
The future of his game is going to be something like what we saw against Denver. Against the Nuggets he shot and made more threes, showed flashes of his ability to run the offense, scored on back cuts and still attacked the rim.
Looking back to pre-season, I remembered my thoughts on DM this year:
Barring some miraculous jump in production from any of the back end of the roster or an injury, DM should be getting the third PG minutes that translate to lots of playing time in blowouts and back-to-backs.
He is the athlete we gave up (George Hill) and the youth that we do not have any more (Tony Parker) at the premier position in the league. He is still learning his place in the league but his ability combined with the confidence (cockiness?) provide some of the swashbuckling swagger that Manu just does not have every night. Also, he still has Tony, Manu, and even Patty to learn from. That’s something to be hopeful of.
You can make the argument that the ‘premier position in the league’ is maybe SF. But I am literally quibbling with myself here.
The Spurs have been trying to find the next PG for a good while now. Recall that last season the team sent a 2nd round pick to Sacramento for Ray McCallum Jr. a guy that was cut late last year and is now in the D-League.
It looks like the Spurs have found the guy they were looking for.
- This isn’t a guarantee. I mean, Captain Jack famously was waived after refusing to give time to Kawhi Leonard, and way back Derek Anderson left to take a bunch of money at Portland, because he felt he should be a star. ↩