Suns work out ‘intriguing’ PG Dejounte Murray

Jun 10, 2016, 4:08 PM | Updated: 5:07 pm
Washington guard Dejounte Murray (5) takes off on a fast break next to Stanford's Rosco Allen (25) ...

Washington guard Dejounte Murray (5) takes off on a fast break next to Stanford's Rosco Allen (25) and Dorian Pickens, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Seattle. Washington won 64-53. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
LISTEN: Empire of the Suns

PHOENIX – If the Phoenix Suns were to solicit any outside opinions on Washington freshman guard Dejounte Murray, then they may want to put in a call to Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley.

For it was against Hurley’s Sun Devils in which Murray arguably had the best game of his college career: 34 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field and 14-of-18 free throws while adding 11 rebounds and six assists in a 95-83 overtime victory on Feb. 3.

In just one season at Washington, Murray showed the ability to score, rebound, lead an offense and, perhaps more importantly for his NBA future, defend.

It’s why some consider the 19-year-old a first-round pick on June 23 when the Suns will be among the busier teams with four picks in the top 34, including three in the first round and two (Nos. 4 and 13) in the lottery.

Though he played off the ball some in college, Murray sees himself as a point guard. So do the Suns, who worked the 19-year-old out on Friday.

“We like the fact that he can get a defensive rebound and push the ball in traffic to score, to find guys in transition. I think he’s better on the ball at this stage,” general manager Ryan McDonough said. “Now, he is big enough and long enough that he might be able to play some 2 (shooting guard) eventually, but that will come with some added strength. He’s not there yet physically. He’ll need to bulk up a little bit in order to do that at the NBA level.”

Murray stands 6-foot-5, which McDonough likes.

However, Murray’s weight, 170 pounds, makes him one of the lighter draft prospects.

“He’s an intriguing player. He’s got really good length at that size. I think he’s got close to a 7-foot wingspan,” McDonough said. “He needs to fill out, but he’s got pretty broad shoulders in the frame that looks like he’ll be able to add some weight to it.”

Murray, too, knows he needs to bulk up some.

“I got a little frame, skinny frame right now but we’re working on it … going hard in the weight room, eating good,” he said.

Murray doesn’t believe his weight will prevent him from contributing right away while he gets stronger. Murray points to his quickness, which lets him gain separation, drive by defenders and keep opposing players in front of him defensively.

“And I just got heart. I ain’t scared of nobody,” he said. “I don’t let the weight stuff get in the way of anything of me. I know I got to get stronger. I know everybody here is quicker, stronger, but I love to work and I’m not scared of no one. I feel like I’ll be ready to go.”

Murray’s toughness is what stood out to McDonough.

Among freshmen in Washington history, Murray finished second in total steals (62) and third in rebounds (203).

“He averaged close to two steals a game,” McDonough said. “I think he got about six rebounds a game, so he’s not afraid to mix it up. He’s not afraid of contact for a thin guy. He’s got a bright future. I think he’s one of the top point guard prospects in the draft class.”

Point guard would not appear to be a position of need for the Suns, not with Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight on the roster and signed through 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The Suns, however, subscribe to the best player available philosophy.

“I’m willing to come in and work,” Murray said. “I know they got a bunch of guards, but I’ve never been afraid of competition or afraid of competing, so I’ll come in and I’ll work and bust my tail every single practice, every workout and when my number is called, I’ll be ready to go.”

Murray’s workout with the Suns was a solo one and followed a visit with Utah, which holds the No. 12 overall pick. He’s also scheduled to stop in Chicago (No. 14), Milwaukee (No. 10) and New Orleans (No. 6) ahead of the draft.

Murray is currently living and training in Cleveland, where the agency that represents him, Klutch Sports Group, is based. It’s the same agency that represents Bledsoe as well as LeBron James, who according to Murray checks in on him and fellow draft prospect Ben Simmons on occasion.

“It’s surreal for me because that was my favorite player ever since he entered the league,” said Murray, who did not attend the combine on the advice of his agent.

Murray has spent much of his time since he left school early concentrating on his shot.

“A lot. Countless hours. Mornings, nights. It’s a job now,” he said. “I really didn’t have a bad shot. It was a mental thing. I wasn’t shooting the same shot every time. I’d be facing one way, facing another way and my main focus has been lined up straight with the hoop and holding my follow through, shooting going up instead of shooting coming down.”

An overall 41.6 percent shooter, Murray struggled on 3-pointers, making only 34-of-118 (.288).

“It’s gotten better … but I think there’s still a little ways to go,” McDonough said, adding Murray’s midrange game showed better than his 3-point accuracy during the workout. “The stroke looks good though. There’s nothing, I think, mechanically or structurally wrong with it. It’ll just be about repetition, and I think some of it, to be honest with you, is probably strength related, too. In time, as he gets bigger and stronger, he’ll become more consistent with it.”

Starting all 34 games last season for the Huskies, Murray averaged 16.1 points and 4.4 assists, earning Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and All-Conference Second-Team honors.

Based on his size and athleticism, he’s drawn comparisons to current NBA players Shaun Livingston of Golden State and Jamal Crawford of the L.A. Clippers, the latter of whom has become a mentor to Murray. The two hail from Seattle.

“I don’t like comparing myself. I’ll let the media people, they can do all that they want,” he said. “I’m Dejounte Murray. I’m not Jamal Crawford, he holds his own legacy. I’m not Shaun Livingston, he holds his own legacy. I’m just trying to start this journey and build my own legacy.”

Penguin Air

Phoenix Suns

Kevin Durant attends "NYC Point Gods" premiere at Midnight Theatre on July 26, 2022 in New York Cit...
Dan Bickley

Kevin Durant’s exit could get messy for Nets, maybe Suns, too

By my calculations, there is only one way Durant lands in Phoenix. There must be a second act of petulance even worse than the first.
1 day ago
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket as Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns defe...
Arizona Sports

Report: Kevin Durant tells Nets owner to pick him or coach, GM

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant reportedly met with team owner Joe Tsai in London on Saturday and reiterated his trade request.
2 days ago
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Gold...
Sam Graveline

ESPN’s Pelton gives Phoenix Suns ‘C+’ offseason grade

Despite the Phoenix Suns being among the few teams to dominate the offseason news cycle, ESPN's Kevin Pelton gave them a C+ grade.
2 days ago
Cameron Johnson #23 of the Phoenix Suns throws up a shot during the second half of the NBA game at ...
Kellan Olson

Suns’ Cam Johnson to coach at Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia

Cam Johnson will be coaching some of the top prospects from the Asia-Pacific region at a Basketball Without Borders camp in Australia.
4 days ago
Ish Wainright #12 of the Phoenix Suns reacts after a teammate scored against the Los Angeles Lakers...
Kevin Zimmerman

Ish Wainright on Suns return, when NFL career was toast and Game 7

Ish Wainright hit on a few topics on Bickley & Marotta, including how he feels the Suns have responded to their Game 7 loss.
5 days ago
Follow @KellanOlson...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker’s signature Phoenix Suns moves tracked for NBA 2K23

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker will grace the cover of NBA 2K23 and the game will feature his signature moves.
6 days ago
Suns work out ‘intriguing’ PG Dejounte Murray