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Analysts are expecting a lot from Dejounte Murray this year

The Spurs starting point guard just made two big lists.

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs-Game Four Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Just two days after his 22nd birthday, Dejounte Murray is still being celebrated.

Bleacher Report put out their NBA Most Improved Candidates Ready to Break Out list. On it, five strong players who could just push the needle for their teams by their sheer strength and development. In speaking of Murray, Grant Hughes writes:

Murray is a defense-first weapon. He was one of just four qualified players to average at least 2.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes last year. The others: Oladipo, Kent Bazemore and Eric Bledsoe. Among guards, only Russell Westbrook (who shamelessly hunts cheap boards on free-throw misses) averaged more than Murray’s 9.5 pulls per 36 minutes last year.

Hughes does mention Murray’s shooting has improved from season one to season two and that his shot count should increase, but more as a spot up shooter as the offense for the Spurs will focus on DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay.

Watch this season as he cements himself as the league’s best defensive point guard while also taking a leap offensively.

Grant Hughes pegged five players as the candidates for Most Improved Player this season. In addition to Dejounte Murray, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, Brandon Ingram of thr Los Angeles Lakers, Josh Richardson of the Miami Heat, and Markelle Fultz of the Philadelphia 76ers are currently on his radar.

Meanwhile, Zach Lowe posted a similar The six most intriguing NBA players this season through ESPN. com.

In it he praises Dejounte Murray’s defensive skills as well as his work ethic as he spent this summer shooting with Chip Engelland adding catch-and-shoot-threes into his repertoire.

Murray is suddenly the most important player in projecting San Antonio a half-decade from now.

That’s a bold statement considering the company that Murray keeps and the franchise he represents. But it is the truest words to describe a team that lost Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili after spending the last decade in a time warp.

With the trading of two great defenders (one the perennial “next MVP”), Murray’s NBA All-Defensive Second Team nod must not appear to be a fluke. At the same time, his growth at the offensive end is more important to the future that LaMarcus’ sustainability or DeMar’s shoulder chip.

Like the Bleacher Report piece, Lowe mentions Jamal Murray. In addition, he’s keeping his eye on Utah’s Ricky Rubio, Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, and Indiana’s Myles Turner and Domantis Sabonis.

Spurs fans can keep an eye on those guys as well, but one eye will always be on Dejounte Murray.