Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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Too, Too, Too Much Dejounte?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


It’s not often you see the Spurs get thumped like they just were in the Western Conference Finals. In fact, the Warriors earning the 4-0 sweep marked just the third time in the coach Gregg Popovich era the Spurs were swept. We all felt like we were taking crazy pills, but the Warriors are just that good.

 

We’ll have plenty of time to talk about the Warriors in the coming days with their nine (!) days off, but let’s put some bows on the Spurs.

 

Do you remember a pre-Manu Ginobili time in the NBA or really anything from back then? The top-selling phones in 2002 were Nokias, the first Spiderman movie came out, and there was Now That's What I Call Music 8 on CD and cassette. By the way, they still make those and are up to No. 96!! Outdated stuff aside, Manu's game has transcended time. It’s almost like Vine and six-second videos were made for Manu. He scores and creates like nobody else and he made the Euro step cool before guys like James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo — Giannis has the Gyro step, though.

 

In what could be his last go 'round, Ginobili had a strong series against the Warriors, averaging 13.8 points, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 treys on a 67.7 true shooting percentage and a 21.7 usage rate. He also played 20.2 minutes per game at a 105.8 pace in this series. He clearly has plenty left in the tank and Coach Pop deserves a lot of credit for keeping Manu’s minutes in check all year to help him have an impact.

 

The 39-year-old future Hall of Fame guard is going to take some time off to figure out if he’s going to come back next season. Based on Coach Pop starting Manu on Monday and the Argentine’s demeanor on the court when he checked out, this might be it.

 

The impact Manu’s had for style of play and international influence may not be matched ever. He’s part of the reason we see teams take chances on foreign players and it’s made the NBA what it is today. I mean, this was just amazing on Saturday:

 

 

His tweet on Tuesday morning also made it feel like this could be it.

 

 

We need one more year, Manu.

 

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It’s not just Manu who could be up in the air for next season. Tony Parker had successful surgery on his quad tendon and he could miss up to eight months. That means he could be out until 2018 and you can bet the Spurs will be limiting him upon his return. 

 

Secondly, Jonathon Simmons is going to get some huge interest from teams with a lot of cap space. Juice is a restricted free agent, but the Spurs may have a tough time matching offers for him. Although, Simmons strikes me as a loyal guy. Personally, I still remember his first Summer League and just how ecstatic he was when the Spurs to gave him a chance. It may be tough to be loyal for Simmons, especially if the Brinks trucks pull up to his house with $20 million per year. One thing’s for sure: Simmons paying $150 for a tryout seems like a nice investment.

 

Third, there’s Patty Mills and his upcoming free agency. As effective as he’s been as a backup, he had himself a nightmare series as a starter against the Warriors, averaging just 7.8 points, 2.3 boards, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 treys in 30.3 minutes per game. With Parker almost certainly out for the start of next season, the Spurs do have some added incentive to bring him back.

 

There are a lot of big men with player options, as well. Pau Gasol, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon all have player options for the upcoming 2017-18 season. Dedmon was kind of a bargain at $3.0 million for next year and David Lee doesn’t hurt the cap much either at just $1.6 million. Although, Lee’s partially torn patella tendon could be a factor for him to pick up his option. Pau's call is going to be tough for his $16.2 million option, especially after a weak finish to his year. We'll find out what these guys are thinking on June 29.

 

OK, enough of this doom and gloom stuff on one of the best franchises in all of pro sports. The biggest positive takeaway from the Spurs has to be Dejounte Murray. In his last five games, the rookie averaged 8.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.8 steals, 2.4 turnovers and 0.2 blocks on 41.5 percent from the field. It really wasn’t just about his stats and it was more about how he got those. The highlights were coming in bunches and he was effective on his gambles for steals when he was in the right spot. On the other hand, he wasn’t in the right spot very often and he got a crash course on off-ball movement from Stephen Curry. To be fair, putting a rookie guard on Curry is torture.

 

Murray himself is going to have to learn to play better off the ball. Since his college days at Washington, Murray has always liked to take jumpers and shoot from all over. He had 39.9 percent of his shots come as two-point jumpers, which is more than the 35.8 percent of his shots he had at the rim. The 20-year-old guard did make just 34.0 percent of those J’s while he only hit on 28.8 percent on triples as a Husky. Clearly, a lot of room to grow and the raw factor is why he slid to 29 last June.

 

So was there any growth this year? A little. During the regular season, he made 37.0 percent of his two-point jumpers and 39.1 percent on his treys — he only had 77 jumpers during the season, so not much of a sample. In the playoffs, it didn’t go very well with his jumper either. He made just 18.5 percent of his 27 jumpers and didn’t make any of his three tries from three. To take it a step further, he missed all of his three catch-and-shoot tries in the postseason after just 18 total attempts on the regular season. It's clearly a massive hole for a point guard in 2017. 

 

Murray likes the ball in his hands a lot. In just his 22.1 minutes per game over his last five, he had the ball in his hands for 4.0 minutes per game. That means he had the ball in his hands for 18.1 percent of his time out there. To put that in perspective, that’s about the same as Kyrie Irving and more than Kyle Lowry. Those two are arguably the two best off-ball guards in the Eastern Conference, so once again it might be time to watch some tape. 

 

When Kawhi Leonard is back next year, Murray is really going to have to improve on getting free for jumpers and also knock them down. Ideally, he can expand his range to beyond the arc, which was a big asset for Patty Mills in the playoffs before Kawhi went down. Murray isn't going to just come out and become a consistent shooter, but even the threat of it can go a long way to make his first-step even more deadly.

 

One other interesting part of Dejounte’s postseason was how effective his teammates were off his passes on treys. In the postseason, the Spurs made 9-of-20 on 3-pointers off Murray passes. Sure, that’s not the best sample, but it’s still a good number. Also the two players he passed to the most, Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons, combined for a 65.4 effective field goal percentage on their 26 shots. This was one of his best passes of the playoffs: 

 

 

If Murray is going to have an impact next year, he’ll have to be able to play both guard spots. He obviously has the length with 6’11” wingspan on his 6’5” frame, so he can definitely cover most twos. Plus, Pop has already been using him as a combo guard even with so many holes in his game. If for some reason the Spurs can’t bring Patty Mills back, Murray could become a big-time player to watch in his second season. He’s already on the must-watch Summer League players for July. Dejounte is still not the top Murray on this list with Jamal Murray ready to launch some arrows for the Nuggets.

 

Dejounte did fire out a tweet last night after the loss. He sounds ready.

 


Count me in for Team Dejounte.



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.



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