Considering his place as a lottery talent, it was difficult to imagine that Dejounte Murray would still be around when San Antonio selected. After all, Murray enjoyed a relatively impressive position, shooting up in the mock drafts and proving to be one of the more lucrative NBA betting picks.
Yet, there he was, still waiting, giving the Spurs the chance of a lifetime to bring him over to their corner, making the 19-year-old the latest draft night steal.
There are only two NCAA freshmen worth talking about this time round. And, having averaged 16.0 points in the last season, not taking into account the rebounds and assists, it makes all the sense in the world that Ben Simmons was the overall Number 1 pick.
However, Simmons’ record was not that drastically superior to Murray, whose own statistics impressed analysts in the lead-up to the draft. Selected with the Number 29 pick on Thursday, the six-foot tall, 170-pound combo guard is the Spur’s newest addition and the enthusiasm with which the former University of Washington Player expresses himself suggest that he is more than excited to work with the Spurs.
Mere minutes after joining the Spurs, Murray received a call from LeBron James of all people, James congratulating Murray on taking the first step to his bright future. LeBron and Murray share an agent.
At 19 years of age, Murray has already proven to be quite the player, having averaged 16.1 points and 4.4 assists in the previous season. The Seattle native, who turns 20 in September, set the record for assists in a season while playing for University of Washington.
Delivering an impressive 34-point night against Arizona State in February (also named to the PAC-12 All-Freshman team), Murray stood leagues above all conference freshmen, averaging 1.8 steals.
Spurs were not completely caught off guard by the presence and talent that Murray brought to the table. The team had been watching a great many players of notable skills and records, of which Murray was at the top, Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford calling him a supreme talent.
Buford admitted to keeping an eye on Murray throughout the draft and hoping that Spurs would have the great fortune of claiming him for their corner. That Murray would draw the attention of Buford is worth noting.
It is also worth noting that Murray spent some time at Rainer Beach High School in Seattle, the same high school that played host to NBA stars like Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford.
According to Murray, his work ethic doesn’t differ that drastically from teammates like Kawhi Leonard. Murray is ready and willing to put in the work if it means winning. He has expressed a deep love for the game of basketball on a number of occasions, and clearly, Spurs recognized his passion, considering that he was the only player the team selected on Thursday (seeing as they didn’t hold a second round pick).
Murray is following in the shoes of Cory Joseph who was the last Number 29 the Spurs drafted. According to Buford, Murray has the talent they have been looking for, the ability to help build the team and to improve their chemistry.