Pelicans Hope Revitalized Murray Puts Progress Back On Point

The New Orleans Pelicans began the NBA offseason with one of its biggest splashes, trading for former Hawks guard Dejounte Murray. After giving up Dyson Daniels and a few picks, the Pels will hope Murray can continue improving his production. Last season in Atlanta, Murray slashed 22.5.-6.4-5.3 with 1.4 steals per game, shooting 36.3% from deep with an overall true shooting percentage of 55.5%.

Murray’s scoring volume and efficiency reached career highs last season and those trends hopefully continue into his Pelicans tenure, especially the efficiency. He won’t have the same volume of touches playing next to Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, and Brandon Ingram (or whoever the Pels trade Ingram for. 

His three-point shooting was the best of his 8-year career, nailing 36.3% of his 7.1 attempts per game. He’s a good spot-up shooter at this point of his career, able to space the floor and force defenses to pay attention to him. Murray isn’t a flamethrower shooter who warps the geometry of the court, but his shooting, especially on the ball, helped him blossom into the scorer he is today.

Though Murray is somewhat limited off-ball and isn’t the best high-usage creator, he has clear strengths he weaponizes to carve up defenses. His mid-range jumper is elite, creating space with his handle to rise into pull-ups. Murray shot 50.1% from mid-range last season. Murray has some passing limitations but he’s a volume assist machine, especially as a pocket passer in the pick-and-roll.

Murray hasn’t been the same defensively over the past few seasons as his consistency and effort have been sup bar, leading to poor defensive impact (-1.3 Defensive estimated plus minus). 

There’s optimism Murray could improve on a better, more competitive team, regressing to his peak defensive form from his San Antonio days. Murray was an all-defensive level player for the Spurs, dominating with his event creation and defensive playmaking (2.4% career steal rate). Playing alongside other strong defenders like Herb Jones will hopefully up Murray’s energy and impact on that end of the floor.

For a Pelicans team prone to stagnating offensively, Murray’s floor-raising skillset makes sense. He’s not equipped to work as a full-time lead handler, but the Pelicans have other perimeter players to do that. Hopefully, he continues progressing off-ball to pair well with Williamson. If the defense improves, the Pelicans should expect Murray to be a difference-maker as a mid-range scorer and secondary passer. 

Analysis by Ben Pfeifer.

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