The Atlanta Hawks weren’t content with fringe playoff status. Like almost every other team, there is always a desire to improve your team, especially when crazy offseasons are a norm. The biggest problem for NBA GMs is finding a deal that makes your team stronger and doesn’t sacrifice too much in return. After a few offseason blunders, specifically extending John Collins to that massive contract, the Hawks seem to have found a winning move with the trade for Dejounte Murray. He solves many of the team’s issues, while costing future picks that are almost seen as expendable by contending teams.
The problem with the Hawks has always been their dependence on Trae Young. He was the offense, serving as both the primary playmaker and scorer. Atlanta tried to bring in secondary facilitators in Bogdan Bogdanović and Kevin Huerter, but the offense just never clicked the same without Young on the floor. This is why the Hawks traded for Murray. He is not just a secondary playmaker, but is really option 1b. Murray brings the passing and ball handling ability that just helps the offense run, but he also is very efficient in driving into the lane and creating offense through his various drives and cuts. This brings a balance to an offense very much dependent on the three-ball, so having a player who can make offense inside the arc is a valuable counterpart to Young. Murray brings all these qualities to the offensive side of the ball that would make this team even harder to defend, but the real value in acquiring a piece like Murray is the defensive aspect of his game. He is a 6”4 guard with long arms that can defend the best perimeter player, and take pressure off a defense that was always trying to find ways to patch its holes. Playing Murray alongside De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela gives this team two high quality wing defenders with a shot blocking big in the center of the paint. This is vital to the Hawks because of the defensive liability of running Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanović in the backcourt. Now, they can offset having two defensive poor guards by running them with Murray who is capable at masking some of their deficiencies and improving the entire team defense.
The initial results have been immensely promising from the new addition. Overall, the team is standing 3rd in the Eastern Conference with a 9-6 record. Murray has also been putting in the individual performances with 21 ppg which is tied for highest in the league adding almost 8 assists per game which is 5th in the league. He is working great with running the offense both with and without Young. That has been probably the best thing for this Hawks team because if he can continue this output of scoring and playmaking the burden is taken off Young’s shoulders and the team can become much less one dimensional. This is due to having another playmaker, but also because of the unique style of play from Murray. He likes to get downhill, attacking the basket which can create highlight worthy moments.
Murray is fitting exactly what the Hawks brought him in to do on both sides of the ball. He brings balance on the offense, but also ranks third in the league with 2 steals per game. This defensive presence is what makes Dejounte so valuable to this team.
He is someone they can rely on in those crunch time moments that become so valuable in the playoffs, both as an offensive weapon but also as a defensive stopper. This duality is something that the Hawks never really had, it’s what they are hoping De’Andre Hunter can develop into, but it makes them much better in almost all aspects of their game.
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