Following his sophomore campaign, Dejounte Murray entered the offseason with the goal of improving upon his jump shot. The results appeared promising, leading to hope that Murray would be able to take a big step forward in his third season. That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, his season ended before it started after tearing his ACL in the preseason. It took a full year before the point guard was finally able to show off all his hard work.
In his last full season, Murray was limited offensely as a result of his lack of a jumper. With the ball in his hand, teams often went underneath screens, daring him to shoot when given space. By going under on screens, teams were able to keep at least two defenders in between him and the basket. This hampered his best offensive skill: his ability to attack the rim.
Tony Parker was defended largely the same way until he developed into an excellent mid-range shooter. After adding a consistent shot, Parker made teams pay for going under on screens. By routinely knocking down the shots that other teams allowed him to shoot, Parker forced them to adjust their defensive scheme.
Dejounte Murray’s Shooting Improvements
This season, Murray has made strong progress in regards to his mid-range jumper, shooting 43.3% on 1.9 attempts per game. To compare, he attempted three mid-range shots per game during the 2017-18 season but connected on only a third of those shots. The drop in mid-range attempts this season can be attributed to better shot selection and more of a willingness to shoot three-pointers.
Off the ball, Murray was a non-threat during the 2017-18 season, so much so that he even occasionally stood in the dunker’s spot. Doing so was a means to dissuade opponents from leaving him open, but ultimately hurt San Antonio’s spacing.
This season, Murray is shooting 34.9% on 1.4 three-point attempts per game. He is currently shooting above league average from behind the arc, albeit on a relatively low volume — but the early results have been encouraging.
The hard work that he put in over consecutive summers to rework his jump shot has begun to pay off, particularly as the season has progressed. While he was unlikely to develop into a deep pull-up threat like Damian Lillard, being able to spot-up and knock down open threes is an important development.
Dejounte Murray Heating Up
Murray is 10-for-15 on three-pointers over his last eight games, coinciding with LaMarcus Aldridge’s hot streak from deep. Murray and Aldridge’s willingness to improve on their outside shooting has given the Spurs offense a needed boost.
The 23-year-old has also shown growth shooting inside the paint. This season, his finishing at the rim is much improved, as Murray has managed to convert 60.6% of his 3.5 attempts at the rim. During the 2017-18 season, he shot just 55.2% on the same number of attempts per game.
Some of the improvement in finishing may be attributable to an increase in both strength and body control. He appears more capable finishing through contact now, whereas he previously struggled to maintain balance when hit.
Murray has managed to improve his shooting from every shot location, not to mention increasing his free throw percentage from 70.9% to 79.3%. That improvement has led to his most efficient season yet. While it might not quite be the breakout season that some people may have hoped for, he has show solid development after a lost season.
What to Expect in the Future
Going forward, Murray will need to continue to progress as a shooter in order to be able to maximize his potential as a player. When playing off the ball, he’ll need to continue to shoot when open and knock down outside shots to keep defenders from helping off him.
With the ball in his hands, Murray has displayed improved playmaking skills. However, in order to take that next big step, he’ll need to continue to work on creating for himself while simultaneous keeping others involved.
Getting to the rim more — particularly in the fast break where he’s most dangerous — would maximize his improved finishing ability, while increasing his shooting volume and maintaining his percentage on jumpers, especially on three-pointers, may be enough to turn Murray into a star.