Despite spectacular production in each of the first two games of the season, Dejounte Murray played only 24 minutes against the New York Knicks and 23 minutes against the Washington Wizards. Murray’s minutes restriction isn’t by accident, head coach Gregg Popovich is simply following doctors’ orders.
In preseason last year, Murray suffered a torn ACL and missed the entire NBA season. To ease his way back into professional basketball, San Antonio’s medical staff has requested that the young point guard not be allowed to play more than half the game. Pop has listened, even when it requires him to take out the best player on his team in crucial moments.
The minutes limitation hasn’t hurt Murray’s production. The 23-year-old is averaging 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 23.5 minutes per game, while shooting 60% from the floor. While obviously the sample size is super small, Murray is currently fifth in the NBA in PER at 38.36 and 11th in win shares per 48 minutes at .334.
Dejounte Murray: Minutes Restriction Ending?
After the Wizards game, Pop said Murray will remain on his current minutes restriction until around the tenth game of the season. At that point, Pop revealed that Murray’s minutes will increase by 5 or 6 per game.
The timing of the increase in Murray’s minutes makes sense, as starting with the 11th game of the season, San Antonio plays six of their next seven games on the road.
It doesn’t sound like Murray’s minutes restriction will end any time soon, though. Instead, it will be increased to around 30 minutes in about two weeks. But while that might not sound like a big increase, it should allow Murray to finish games on the court rather than watch the last half of the fourth quarter on the bench.
There’s a chance that the doctors lift the limitation on Murray’s minutes at some point this season, but it wouldn’t be surprising for the Spurs to take a cautious approach all year. Next season, Murray’s contract extension, which can be worth up to $70 million if he maxes out the bonuses, kicks in. San Antonio would be wise to protect their investment.
Trickle Down Impact of Dejounte Murray’s Minutes Increasing
Right now, Murray and Derrick White are splitting the point guard minutes. Once Murray is able to play 30 minutes per game, that would push White’s minutes to around 18 a night unless he begins playing minutes alongside Murray at shooting guard.
To begin the regular season, Mills has also been getting a few minutes at point guard (with nonoptimal results). If that continues, it would further limit White’s playing time. Considering White appears to be a big part of this team’s future and spent his summer playing for Pop on Team USA, I would imagine that Pop would find a way to keep White’s minutes north of 20 per game. We’ll find out soon enough.
As it is, Murray looks healthy and he’s playing great. Let’s hope that continues on both fronts.