In the NBA, injuries can sometimes translate into opportunities for young players trying to crack a tight rotation. When six-time All-Star Tony Parker was sidelined last week, due to pain in his left foot, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich handed the offensive reins over to 20-year-old rookie Dejounte Murray, who quickly seized the moment.
After being listed as inactive in the previous two contests, Murray went off for a career-high 24 points against the Denver Nuggets, becoming the youngest Spur to reach that mark in a regular season game. Murray followed that up with 14 points versus the Cavaliers in Cleveland, in a nationally televised overtime win where his full game was on display. Murray began the week with a quiet night in Brooklyn against the Nets, but bounced back with 11 points in a victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The Spurs are 6-0 with Murray in the starting lineup this season, which is one win away from Parker’s 7-0 start in 2001. Parker is listed as probable for tonight’s away game versus Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Dejounte Murray is now the youngest player in Spurs franchise history to score 24 or more points in a game. Previously Tony Parker in 2002. pic.twitter.com/HKuDMrWe8Z
Although Murray’s emergence on the NBA stage has been a welcome surprise, it falls in line with his numbers in Austin for the D-League Spurs. He is averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in 13 appearances with the Austin Spurs this season. Like Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons before him, Murray appears to be making full use of his D-League experience, as he become more and more familiar with the intricacies of I-35.
With Parker back in the rotation and Patty Mills playing at a high level, additional jaunts to Austin may be in Murray’s immediate future. For now, Murray has proven that he can compete at the NBA level and is a reliable option at the point guard position should further injuries arise. Not bad for the 29th pick in the draft.