The Atlanta Hawks and their fans were promised “leadership” by newly-acquired guard Dejounte Murray during his introductory press conference. And the reigning NBA leader in steal and one-time All-Star did not waste any time displaying that leadership, immediately setting the expectations for the upcoming season.
Murray talked about his excitement to play with Trae Young, a sentiment that has long been reported as mutual. He added that, if he had not been traded to the Hawks, he would still be playing for the Spurs.
There are expectations of more moves, too, even after the Hawks moved on from 2018 19th-overall pick, Kevin Huerter, in a trade to the Sacramento Kings.
Rather than wait for anyone else, Murray is already locked in.
New Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray set the tone for the upcoming season
This trade went from a faint whisper to a done deal rather quickly. But the two had been kicking around the idea to play together for some time according to Murray. The two had been discussing it for “about two, three weeks”, said Murray. He added that Young “pushed the needle” to get a deal done.
Young made his feelings on the matter known as well.
Many have questioned the fit between the two players who have enjoyed tremendous success as on-ball playmakers.
Murray made it clear that the team’s success is far more important than their numbers.
“I want to win a championship. I want to compete on the highest level. I work hard, that’s all I do. I take a lot of pride in getting better each and every year. I take a lot of pride in learning the NBA from whatever team I’m with to other teams we’re…competing against. But my main goal is to win a championship. If we win and we come together and build something great, then everybody gets a bunch of success.”
Murray continued to say that he “wants to see the next person be successful more than” himself before reiterating it’s all about the team.
Concerns over the fit are warranted. Murray shot just 34.5% on catch-and-shoot threes. Young shot over 48% on his catch-and-shoot opportunities. But they came on just 1.0 attempts per contest.
Similarly, over 72% of Murray’s made field goals came unassisted while Young generated his own offense over 83% of the time.
Murray has also been a plus-defender in three of the past four seasons (4-of-5 to start his career), per Cleaning the Glass. That is as much of a reason for this pairing as the added scoring punch that he will provide as a 20-point-per-game threat.
His leadership is an added and needed layer.
This team admittedly did not take every game as seriously as they should have this past season after making a deep run to the playoffs.
Another vocal figure in that locker room to prevent that can’t hurt. And Murray’s assertion that nothing matters over the team’s success is the best way to drive that home. The Hawks need that resolve to be contagious.