Dejounte Murray now has the most triple doubles in a season for a Spurs player, and we are not even halfway through the season. How big of an accomplishment is that?
Marilyn Dubinski: Even though triple-doubles have become more common today than they were back during the time of the Spurs’ last triple-double machine (David Robinson), it’s still quite the accomplishment. Before this season he had always played next to ball-dominant players, so he never had a chance to show off his range of skills. The defense and rebounding has always been there, but now that he has the keys to the offense, he has been able to show off his ability to execute and make the correct decision with the ball, as well as his expanded scoring game. It’s a much bigger leap than many saw coming from him, so it’s quite the accomplishment.
Mark Barrington: I think it’s an arbitrary benchmark. I mean in a way, all statistical benchmarks are arbitrary, but when you start combining them it becomes even more arbitrary. I think it does show that Dejounte is a versatile performer and does a lot of things well, but we already knew that. I think it’s a good thing, because it gets the national press’s attention, and that means that a Spurs player is finally getting some deserved recognition. I’m happy that even casual NBA fans are starting to find out that Murray is a very good player and should be appreciated. Dedicated fans who really know basketball already were on the Dejounte train, but more are always welcome.
Brunos Passos: We no longer think of triple doubles in absolutes so, in the 2021 sense of them being feats of volume, activity and uncertain net value, it remains extremely impressive — especially because the advanced stats confirm Murray is an important contributor and not simply sucking up numbers and usage. He’s been offensively prolific and defensively impactful, and we’ve regularly seen him shape the tone of games. The triple double totals are just what remain after the dust settles.
Jesus Gomez: If triple doubles were easy to get, everyone would get them. That being said, it is much easier to log one in today’s NBA than in the past, when positions and roles weren’t as fluid, so it’s hard to read too much into them or be too excited about them. Maybe it’s in part because of the whole circus surrounding Russell Westbrook’s triple doubles during his MVP season, but the arbitrary nature of them is impossible to ignore for me as well. Dejounte had eight rebounds and nine assists a few days ago against the Nuggets and that was as impressive a performance as most others that resulted in triple doubles.
I like that Murray is getting attention for his great play, so I don’t mind that it is because of triple doubles, but the numbers ar not as impressive to me as his two-way impact. If he’s happy about them, though, I’m happy for him.
J.R. Wilco: There’s not a ton of room between “they’re not meaningless” and “they don’t mean much,” but there’s enough for DJ to operate in. And operate he has — to the tune of expanded name recognition and national attention. Those things aren’t why the game is played, but they contribute to the narrative. And since stories help people understand the game, narratives are important. They’re not everything, but a “triple double machine” narrative is certainly better than any of the stories his detractors have predicted for him along the way.
Do you think Murray could realistically get an All-Star spot this season?
Dubinski: He could, although I think it would more likely be as an injury (or COVID) reserve. It would help his case a lot if the Spurs can get more into the .500 range by the time the bench players are chosen, but per usual the West is loaded with back court talent, and considering it’s been a challenge for players like DeMar DeRozan and even Devin Booker to make it in recent years, it’s even harder to see Murray making it while leading a “losing,” small market team without some extra help. That being said, he deserves it.
Barrington: I think if all of the top guards in the West are healthy and want to go, he’s not going to be selected, because the West is loaded with elite backcourt talent, and he just doesn’t have the elite offense and notoriety to be among the top 5 or 6 chosen. But at least one or two of those is likely to not make it to the game, especially with health and safety protocols causing a lot of missed games, so it’s very possible he ends up going as a replacement.
Passos: There are worthy players that miss the cut every year, but it says a lot about how far he’s come that he wouldn’t look entirely out of place there, even if a no-defense, all-flash event may not be the best showcase of his strong start to the season. The Spurs’ poor record is the biggest knock on him at the moment and the reason why other guys in the conference may have a better case. Even if it doesn’t quite happen, we should all be so lucky as to make an ‘All Star Snubs’ list at some point in our lives.
Gomez: I don’t think he’s at that level yet, considering that Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic (and probably someone else I’m missing) are probably ahead of him. But he’s in the conversation, which is huge for the Spurs. Someone needed to take a step forward to make the slow build of the last three years worthwhile and Murray has done that. He’ll probably not get the nod even if he continues to get more notoriety for his individual play because the Spurs are struggling, but having a guard that looks like he can be the second or third best player on a contender is a gigantic step in the right direction.
Wilco: It’s realistic, which is a big deal, whether he’s actually invited or not. Being discussed as one of the league’s best beings confidence. And confidence is essential for reaching potential.