Hawks' Dejounte Murray already delivering on one offseason goal

Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray revealed one of his offseason goals and the early returns are encouraging.
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray
Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

At the conclusion of the 2023-24 season, Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray had at least one goal on his mind. 

Murray is coming off a career year, setting new personal bests with 22.5 points and 7.1 three-pointers attempted per game, connecting on 36.3% of those looks. However, the Hawks fell short of their goals, and Murray’s. 

He said before the season they could not be a Play-In Tournament team, which they were.

Going into his eighth NBA offseason, Murray is looking to bulk up. And the early looks say he’s well on his way.

“For me, I try to keep the same approach, especially on the basketball court. I never limit myself. I always try to continue to get better and grow as a player,” Murray told reporters on April 19. “And then outside of that, I want to become real stronger. Stronger than I ever been before. Just the nutrition, diet. Even though I eat right, but just tuning it up even more.

“And in the weight room even more, working on what I really need to work on. And just trying to take everything to another level. That's just who I am each and every year. I try to approach it the same way, but even better. So that's pretty much it.”

Murray was also asked how much time he takes off before getting back to work.

He answered the question but also opened up about his affinity for hitting the weight room, which can be difficult with the busy NBA travel schedule.

“I could probably take away three weeks. But I'll get in the weight room before that,” Murray said. “I actually fell in love with starting to lift, so. It's just hard in the season to do it every day. You're always on the go, always on the move. So basketball, probably take three, four weeks before I start going hard in it. And other than that, I'll be starting lifting probably in a week.”

Pressed on what led to his passion, Murray harkened back to a darker time. The one-time All-Star and steals champion tore his ACL in 2018. At the time, Murray opened up about how he “cried” over the devastating injury that cost him the entire 2018-19 campaign.

Murray – who is listed at 180 pounds – also learned valuable lessons about himself.

“When I got hurt a few years ago years ago, I got to learn about my body and the importance of all the agility stuff in the lifting. I allows you to be available; like I am. It limits injuries, which the proof been that from since I've been hurt uh and I've been able to be available. And I think it wasn't just, ‘Oh, I'm eating the right foods.’ Or, ‘I'm working on my basketball game.’ It starts in there: the treatment tables and then the weight room.”

Hawks still a rarity in the NBA

A quick glance around the league shows that teams don’t often employ two point guards, at least not at the same time.

The Hawks are the antithesis of that.

They not only roster two players who have earned All-Star status, both players are in their early primes and starting alongside one another, leaving for an often undersized pairing compared to their counterparts on any given night.

Murray’s bulk should help if he stays, as would a similar undertaking from Trae Young. But Murray’s comments about the pairing could speak volumes about how it must be evaluated.

There are flashes that the duo can work, though they have been too few and far between.

We're two point guards. Let's just make that clear: two point guards,” Murray said on the “From The Point” podcast on April 8. “Obviously, he established more to me in this league. He came into a great role where I came in a different role. Everybody's situation’s different.”

Murray showcased his chops as the Hawks’ lead guard, averaging 24.8 points and 9.2 assists amid Young’s 23-game absence following surgery on the latter’s finger.

There have been talks the Hawks will explore trading Young and building around Murray.

The two insist their relationship is still in a good place, and General Manager Landry Fields acknowledged the front office is exploring ways the star backcourt can work. Murray’s physical development could be one step towards that.