The Hawks’ single most significant problem on the offensive end of the court was their lack of a second playmaker after Trae Young. He had to be on the ball to be effective, which isn’t indicative of the type of player he is, but rather the lack of playmakers and ball handlers surrounding him. Atlanta was one of the best offenses in the Association last year during the regular season; however, once they got to the playoffs, a team like Heat was able to bully them into submission, given how predictable the Hawks were on offense.
Travis Schlenk went out and solved that issue by trading for Dejounte Murray. He can play on and off the ball, run the offense, or be a threat off the catch. Even though he’s not a great outside shooter, Murray has excellent court vision and knows how to attack defenders closing out. With the addition of Murray, Young can play more off-ball, which should lead to even more success on offense. Not only will Murray solve the Hawks’ offensive woes, but he will also help considerably on the other end of the court.
The former Spur is one of the best two-way players in basketball, able to consistently force turnovers, excellent at navigating screens, and does all the little things right — helps in the paint and recovers to the perimeter. But nobody should be surprised. If there’s one thing Pop teaches, it’s the fundamentals of the game. Not only will they be a terror on the court together, but Nate McMillan will also be able to stagger the two All-Stars and always have an elite initiator on the court.
Murray and Young complement each other perfectly. Both young stars ranked in the top five in the league in assists per game last season, but they’re entirely different players. Ice Trae is a box office scorer, averaging 28.4 points last season, with unlimited shooting range but a small frame and a defensive liability. Murray is a downhill scorer who finishes at the rim with conviction but is inconsistent from deep, shooting 33% from beyond the arc over his career. As I mentioned earlier, he’s an excellent defender with a 6-foot-10 wingspan that can cover up some of Young’s deficiencies on that end of the court.
Murray immediately becomes the team’s second-best player with long-term upside. At just 25 years old, he is only scratching the surface.
There’s only one way to describe what is happening in Atlanta — special. And Murray knows it better than anyone. His words from his introductory press conference are all Hawks fans need to hear to get excited about this upcoming season.
"It's going to be special."@DejounteMurray on teaming up with @TheTraeYoung pic.twitter.com/y2cA9dgTbL
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 1, 2022
John McCoy/Icon Sportswire
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