With Kawhi Leonard now in Toronto, he is replaced in San Antonio by DeMar DeRozan. He’s got three years left on his contract, with the final year being a player-option. He’s joined by point guard Dejounte Murray, who will be a full-time NBA starting point guard for the first time in his career this season. This backcourt has tremendous upside, and the possibilities. Read below as we size it up.
After playing in just 38 games in his first season, Murray appeared in all but one contest last year, starting 48 of the 81 games he appeared in. He averaged eight points, six rebounds, and three assists per game. He also averaged a little over one steal per game, and he was selected as an All–NBA Defensive team member. He had started to begin the year and was briefly moved to the bench in favor of Tony Parker. When it was clear that Murray was the guy for the job, he moved back into his role as a starter permanently.
There will be some pressure on Murray this year, but he seems ready for it. He’s made just eighteen threes over his first two years, but we should expect him to add that shot to his arsenal this year. If he’s able to start knocking down jump shots, he’ll be a lot more dangerous offensively. With his terrific ability to get to the rim with ease, adding that will really open things up for him. There are very few successful point guards in this league who cannot shoot the long ball. He is likely to make another All-Defense team with the effort he plays with though.
Then, we have DeMar DeRozan. It’s well-known exactly what he will bring to the table. A regular season average of 22-26 points per game, less than a three per game, and a field goal percentage around 45%. Last year though, he averaged a career-best 5.2 assists per game, showing he can facilitate effectively. He made a career-best 89 three-pointers but shot just 31% from downtown. Playing in San Antonio, it will be important for him to stretch his range back a bit, considering how frequently LaMarcus Aldridge takes long twos.
The last dynamic duo of mid-range shooters, was when Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were teammates in Memphis. It is not a consistently winning recipe. If DeRozan can develop his outside shot, he is doing to be very good here. He’s going to get a lot of opportunities to make plays, and will easily reach his usual scoring average. He’s also a very underrated defender, something the Spurs are looking forward to having on their squad.
It is very possible that Murray and DeRozan could be a top-10 NBA backcourt by mid-season this year. Both players are terrific defenders and work well within systems. If Murray can get his shot going, and DeRozan can consistently hit threes, this team can be very good.