The Atlanta Hawks are currently in the process of trying to turn a slightly above-average roster into a championship-contending one.
Although the team already unloaded its biggest problem in John Collins a couple of weeks ago, the front office has still been relatively quiet up to this point in terms of making any big trades or notable free-agent signings.
Perhaps the most noteworthy signing so far was not an acquisition but rather a retention in the form of shooting guard Dejounte Murray’s new 4-year, $120 million contract that will keep the former San Antonio Spur in an Atlanta Hawks jersey for the long haul.
While Murray is a former All-Star and showed flashes last year, particularly during a torrent streak of games in mid-January, of being the legitimate number 2 option to Trae Young that Hawks fans had hoped for, the tandem failed to live up to the lofty, and perhaps unrealistic, expectations set by the fanbase when the trade was first announced.
With that said, to see just how high Atlanta’s ceiling might reach with Murray as a second option, let’s take a look at where he ranks among NBA shooting guards.
Shooting guards that Dejounte Murray is better than:
Jaden Ivey, Jalen Green, Andrew Nembhard, Malik Beasley, Grayson Allen, Quentin Grimes, Josh Giddey, Gary Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Kevin Huerter, Devin Vassell, Gary Trent Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Terry Rozier, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
There really shouldn’t be too much controversy about any of these names, which includes former Atlanta Hawk Kevin Huerter, who was salary dumped to the Sacramento Kings last offseason in a move that proved Atlanta’s ownership cares more about its pockets than winning but in actuality probably didn’t affect much about the 2023 season’s ultimate result.
Jalen Green is an exciting young player who certainly has the potential to become a star, especially now that he has some veteran leadership on his Houston Rockets team, but for now, Murray is comfortably a tier above him. Terry Rozier also has somewhat comparable stats to Murray, but the lack of talent around him in Charlotte certainly figures into that equation.
Shooting guards that Dejounte Murray is about as good as:
Mikal Bridges, Zach LaVine, Klay Thompson, Desmond Bane, Tyler Herro, Brandon Ingram (yes, apparently he is a shooting guard), Anfernee Simons, Bradley Beal
This is probably the part of the list that will cause the biggest stir. It’s highly unlikely that any Hawks fan would trade Murray for the version of Klay Thompson we saw in the 2023 playoffs, but Thompson still has a level of offensive electricity that few players in NBA history can reach and thus earns his spot in this tear.
Murray also is probably a little bit more reliable and certainly better defensively than Portland’s Anfernee Simons, although he too cancels out some of his weaknesses with his firepower.
Shooting guards that are better than Dejounte Murray:
Jaylen Brown, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Edwards, Paul George
After being thoroughly outplayed by Caleb Martin in the conference finals, Jaylen Brown’s stock is the lowest it’s been in a while right now. But we also saw him thoroughly outplay Murray himself in the first round, so I think it’s fair to say the (disgruntled?) Celtics’ star is better.
Irving is perhaps the oddest name on this list as he is generally thought of as a point guard; however, both Luka Doncic presently and LeBron James in the late 2010s were the true point guards for teams featuring Irving, who has always been more of an offensive weapon to be deployed than a floor general. That being said, he is one of the best such weapons in NBA history and, when he isn’t refusing needles or tweeting links to factually debunked documentaries, is a more impactful player than Murray.
The other names here shouldn’t incite too much protest.
All things considered, Murray is definitely in the top third of shooting guards in the league and is probably in the 5-7 range, as I think you could take him above most if not all of the names in his tier with the right debate points.
So is he good enough to be a true number two option on a contender? Theoretically, if everything breaks right, yes. The problem is that things haven’t broken right for Atlanta in quite some time, and the current roster has far too many holes and redundancies to bring the most out of Young and Murray’s capabilities.
Let’s hope Atlanta’s front office isn’t finished making calls.