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NBA

How will Dejounte Murray fit in beside Trae Young at Atlanta Hawks?

Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, both players who were selected for last season’s All-Star Game, look like being one of the NBA’s top backcourt pairings.

Update:
Dejounte Murray and Trae Young, both players who were selected for last season’s All-Star Game, look like being one of the NBA’s top backcourt pairings.
Brett CarlsenAFP

The NBA market leaves no one indifferent. While some movements take place over weeks or even months, others take place in a matter of hours, without prior notice. This was the case of the late June trade between the Atlanta Hawks and the San Antonio Spurs, which saw the Spurs send Dejounte Murray to Georgia. Murray, 25, will now form a backcourt pairing with Trae Young, one of the stars of the league.

Destined to meet

After a disappointing year in which they finished ninth in the East, made the Playoffs via the Play-In, then fell in the first round against the Miami Heat (4-1), the Hawks needed a change. The roster that was one step away from the NBA Finals two seasons ago was more in doubt than ever.

It was a trade involving two teams that both needed it. San Antonio’s total change of direction (seeking to drop down the standings to get better players in the Draft) forced them to offload their most valuable player, while the Hawks were looking for a safe pair of hands alongside Young, one of the best players in the league. They were destined to meet.

With the departure of John Collins up in the air, Atlanta sent Danilo Gallinari to San Antonio - he was subsequently cut by the Spurs and joined the Boston Celtics - and gave the Texans three first-round Draft picks: in 2023, via the Charlotte Hornets, and in 2025 and 2027.

Trae Young against Miami Heat in the past Playoffs
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Trae Young against Miami Heat in the past PlayoffsJim RassolUSA TODAY Sports

How Murray, Young will gel remains an unknown

Murray may spark doubts about how he’ll fit into Nate McMillan’s system, given he and Young are both point guards. His incredible talent and versatility allowed him to average 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and two steals per game and be chosen for the latest edition of the All-Star Game.

And his numbers don’t do justice to his incredible defensive abilities. This is perhaps the area in which he can be the best foil for Young, who struggles underneath his own basket against top teams. Murray may also be able to help bring on the No. 11′s game without ball in hand.

They’re an unusual couple who are a departure from the philosophy that the NBA has followed in the last decade. It should be remembered that, in addition to the 28.4 points Young averaged per game, he managed to supply 9.7 assists per night.

With more than nine assists each per game, Murray and Young are two players who require the ball to produce, who look to grab the spotlight every time they step onto the court. McMillan will have the task of bringing out the best in each for the common good.

Dejounte Murray defending Cleveland Cavaliers' Isaac Okoro== FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
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Dejounte Murray defending Cleveland Cavaliers' Isaac Okoro== FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==Jason MillerAFP

Murray: “It won’t be too hard to fit in”

If anything characterises the former Spurs guard, it’s the versatility and variety he can add to his team’s system. In an interview with the US media outlet Hoopshype in July, Murray spoke of his excitement at joining the Hawks and his confidence that he’ll slot seamlessly into the team.

“We [Murray and Young] have been texting each day, whether it’s about life, basketball, or taking care of our family and building that chemistry,” he said, adding: “They already have a culture over there that they built. There’s a brotherhood. For me, it won’t be too hard to fit in. I work hard, and I can adapt to any environment I’m put in with my style of play and willingness to learn and work. It’s going to be a smooth transition. I think we’ll figure it out. We’re both smart, and we love the game.”

Two All-Stars will lead Atlanta’s project next season. The doubts in Brooklyn, the unknowns in Philadelphia and the uncertain future in Miami may open the door for the Hawks to be one of the best teams in the East, and - why not? - fight for the championship. Murray, without a doubt, has all the tools to help them do that.

Dejounte Murray defending Russell Westbrook
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Dejounte Murray defending Russell WestbrookScott WachterUSA TODAY Sports
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