Kawhi Leonard missed the opener with a leg injury. Tony Parker is still recovering from a left quadriceps tendon surgery and is slated to return in November. Now, this may shock you, but it turns out that the loss of individual cogs may not hamper the Spurs too much as a whole, in part because they drafted well in the late first round. Last night Pop handed the starting point guard duties to second-year player Dejounte Murray. The long and fast lad made good on that, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, along with five rebounds, two steals, and two assists.
Murray’s 6-foot-5 with a seven-foot wingspan, and he was poking his big limbs in passing lanes all night, reaping the sweet fruit of transition dunks.
He also found all manner of ways to score inside. He’s fast enough to freeze Jeff Teague, turn the corner, and loll the ball into the hoop:
Long enough to finish a give-and-go in heavy traffic, with Jimmy Butler in his teeth:
Bouncy enough to clean the glass and plop it back up one-handed:
Controlled enough to find that angle even from very wacky positions:
Aside from his constipated baseball tattoo, Murray’s biggest flaw might be his range. If he can force defenders to respect his jumper, he may one day be a genuine pain in the butt. This could prove to be a big if: In his one season at Washington he shot just 29 percent from three and 66 percent from the line. (On a tiny sample size of 23 attempts from his last season with the Spurs, he shot 39 percent from three; he was still just 70 percent from the line.) And yet there’s no better place for him to gradually grow into his shot, get the best possible looks, and grasp how an offense should be run. Even after Murray recedes into the rotation once the ball handlers return, the Spurs, as ever, have to be feeling comfortable about their future.