In a recent piece on Marquese Chriss, we mentioned that the Huskies entered the 2015-16 season with a great recruiting class. Although Marquese Chriss left that freshman season as the top NBA Draft prospect, he wasn't exactly the leader of that freshman core. That label would go to Dejounte Murray, who averaged averaged 16.1 points, 6 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 1.8 steals per game on 42% from the field.
Although he'll be entering the NBA Draft as a point guard, Murray actually worked as a combo guard with Washington. Senior guard Andrew Andrews was the main figurehead that actually brought the ball up the court and started the team's half-court sets, but he let Murray take care of business. That was a good plan as Andrews was an amazing perimeter weapon (shot 40% from 3 as a senior) that could work off-ball while Murray stood as the major on-ball threat. Once that transition occurred was when the fun happened.
Most of that enjoyment was due to how aggressive Murray was as an on-ball cutter. He constantly looks for different ways to try to get into the paint, which is helped by how comfortable he is as a ball-handler. Murray has a plethora of tricks that he utilizes to get around his opponent, from tenacious crossovers, quick first-steps or suddenly changing speeds which usually tricks the opposition. Following that, Murray's major weapon is a floater where he shows an impressive touch and range. According to Synergy Sports, Murray converted a solid 45% of his floater attempts. An example of that move is shown below, as Murray works around the corner screen to lace up a floater towards the top of the paint.
While his slender 170-pound frame prevented him from really being able to be effective around contact, he definitely isn't scared to do that. That's a good thing as his 6'5 frame and 6'9 wingspan gives him a bevy of potential to be able to score around the rim once he becomes stronger. Despite those worries with cutting around contact, he still shot a solid 58% from around the rim, according to Hoop-Math.
Although he can get work done as a half-court weapon, the main bread-and-butter of Murray's offense came through transition. According to KenPom, Washington had the 2nd highest tempo in college hoops, while having an average possession length of 13.6 seconds, which was only topped by UW-Green Bay (13.4 secs). Murray was the main proponent behind that high-paced attack as his quickness and ball-handling abilities allowed him to be an extremely dangerous weapon.
The two areas on offense that has ultimately kept Murray back as an NBA prospect are: shooting and decision-making. Despite doing most of work as an off-ball guard, Murray was never able to be an effective perimeter weapon as he shot only 29% from beyond the arc. That percentage would make him the 2nd-least efficient perimeter shooter in this year's draft class, only beating out St. Joseph's wing DeAndre Bembry. Inefficiency still rests with Murray when he tries to create his own shot inside the perimeter. Off-the-dribble, Murray shot 27% which shows that he has a lackluster jumper no matter what method he's using.
When it came to his work as a decision-maker and facilitator, Murray definitely had his struggles. Averaging 3.9 turnovers per 40 minutes, Murray regularly had those moments where he tried to get too flashy or just lose his spot on the court. Those issues could primarily due to a lack of experience, as he does showcase some solid court vision especially when he's attacking the rim. In those instances, Murray displays an ability to work the ball into an inside or perimeter player. That skill is shown in the play below, as Murray drives towards the paint and throws a smooth pass through traffic to the big.
Standing at 6'5 with a 6'8 wingspan, Murray has plenty of potential on the defensive end. That potentially is helped how aggressive Murray is with working in the passing lanes as he regularly used his lanky frame to swat away incoming passes as he averaged 2.2 steals per 40 minutes. However, he's very inconsistent with the effort that he puts on that end of the floor as he doesn't have great fundamentals and he sometimes just doesn't look that attentive.
Out of this year's draft class, Dejounte Murray might be the most raw. While there's a lot of promise due to his frame, quickness and handles, Murray just doesn't really have one refined skill. While his cutting might be the closest example of that, he needs to add some more bulk to his frame before he could be comfortable working around contact. Aside from that, he needs to put a lot of work into his jumper (mid-range or perimeter), and just gain some more on-court awareness.
The process of fixing those issues would mean that Murray will probably spend most of his rookie season in the D-League. In the NBADL, he would still be able to have a big role in the offense while also gaining some valuable on-court experience. Just having that experience would allow him to refine his on-court awareness on offense while just becoming more fundamentally sound on defense. Those improvements could lead Murray to becoming a valuable NBA piece even he doesn't make huge improvements as a perimeter shooter.