Dejounte Murray points to Hawks' Quin Snyder for defensive drop-off

Former Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray offered a telling explanation for his defense over the last two seasons.
Dejounte Murray, Quin Snyder, Atlanta Hawks
Dejounte Murray, Quin Snyder, Atlanta Hawks / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

Former Atlanta Hawks star Dejoute Muray has embraced his new home with the New Orleans Pelicans. 

He has flaunted his new team colors and showed his appreciation for his new teammates, most notably thanking Pelicans forward Herb Jones for granting him the use of the No. 5 jersey which the latter had previously worn.

Murray also sent a heartfelt message to Hawks Nation after the trade.

However, he also apparently ready to address some of the narratives that surrounded him during his tenure. Most notably, Murray addressed a fan’s take that he was a poor defender.

“Another Casual That Don’t Watch Hoops Or Really Know What’s Going On With His FAVORITE TEAM!!” Murray posted on X on July 6. “Ask Your Head Coach Why When I Begged Him For Me To Guard The Best Players I Was Told They Wanna Save My Energy For Scoring!!! Hahahaha  You Will See A MONSTER On Defense 24-25 SZN.”

The interaction comes amid Murray’s defensive prowess being touted as one of his strengths and a selling point for his acquisition. The guard has bristled at similar critiques in the past.

He also pointed out Hawks head coach Quin Snyder was hamstrung by injuries.

Dejounte Murray’s defense waned with increased offensive burden

An All-Star and steals champ in 2021-22, Murray posted the two worst defensive ratings of his career during his Hawks tenure, per Basketball Reference. The Hawks’ defensive rating was 3.4 points per 100 possessions worse with Murray on the floor in 2023-24, per Cleaning The Glass.

Murray also posted the second and third-highest usage rates of his career while donning a Hawks uniform.

He explained how one player can sing a team during a conversation with Pelicans media.

“I value just playing the right way and playing the right way is ‘defense wins championships,’ Murray told Pelicans reporter Erin Summers on July 9. “Obviously you got to score the basketball too. But … it's something for me, like when I know I'm playing defense but also you got a group of guys playing defense. It's just something you can't teach.

“The feeling of that just knowing that we're competing on who's guarding the best guy or you knowing that you got your teammates back. That's important, so. I love defense. But it's a team thing. You can have one guy playing defense – or two – and the rest not. Nothing happens.”

Murray has spoken about his defensive responsibilities with the Hawks in a less-than-glowing manner before.

He also called out the gameplan in the loss to the Chicago Bulls in the 2023 Play-In Tournament.

“I guess the gameplan was they wanted to double DeMar [DeRozan]. So you're the players. You respect your coaches, and you follow the gameplan. And that was the gameplan,” Murray told reporters after the game on April 17. You see we was doubling DeMar, and that gave other guys confidence. ”

Pelicans putting Dejounte Murray back in proper position

Murray was tasked with being a point-of-attack defender in Atlanta. A role he may have already been underqualified for was made tougher by playing out of position where his 6-foot-5 frame was less of an asset.

He was not alone in calling out the team’s defense either, with Clint Capela noting transition defense as an issue throughout his tenure.

Murray is entering a similar situation with some key differences in New Orleans.

The Hawks have a decent wing defender in De’Andre Hunter. However, the Pelicans have a 2023-24 All-Defensive First-Teamer in Jones. The Pelicans had the sixth-ranked defensive rating in the league last season, per The Hawks ranked 27th.

Despite all that went wrong in Atlanta, Murray stood by his previous stance about addressing trade rumors, opening up with it all behind him.

“On the deadline stuff, it’s not appropriate to speak on that when I was in Atlanta because … I love my brothers and all those guys there,” Murray told reporters on July 9. “I understand my role in this business. I’m a basketball player. I’m not the GM, the owner, anyone in the front office – the coach. So that stuff really never came to mind because if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t it doesn’t.

“It’s a business that I stay out of, like I said, when it comes to the front office and all these different things. And you have to realize in the NBA you have to win. It’s not on one player. But you always gotta do what’s best for your team. And sometimes those are hard things.”