We’ve got to talk about Dejounte Murray, the guy is an enigma. He’s a tremendously talented and underrated player, who’s currently averaging 20/6/6 to go along with 2 steals and has been a tremendous fit next to Trae Young in Atlanta’s backcourt helping to lead the Hawks to an 11-9 start to the season. He makes highlight plays on both ends of the court and is capable of dropping 40 on any given night.
But, as the NBA world is paying more attention to him, we might be seeing why the Spurs were willing to move on from a 26-year-old all-star caliber player entering his prime. It all started this summer at a Seattle pro-am, Murray got into it with the first-overall pick, and fellow Seattle native, Paolo Banchero, in a seemingly random outburst that turned into public social media beef. Murray called out Banchero for ‘changing’ after he was the one who talked trash, threw a ball at Banchero, and more during a pro-am game in the offseason.
Then there was this.
Now, this has all seeming come to a head during the Hawk’s loss this past weekend to the Houston Rockets. As the Hawks built an early lead, Murray and Trae Young were celebrating making shots, talking trash, and Murray even bopped rookie Jabari Smith on the head after making a three. There’s nothing wrong with trash talk and competition but there is a line, and the Hawks were skating it, only to go out there and blow a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, shoutout the young Rockets on the comeback!
Again, nothing wrong with some showboating and trash talk, but whether it’s Trae embracing his ‘villain’ role or Dejounte’s antics, if you’re going to act like this, you better win while doing it.
Stay humble Atlanta, you’ve won nothing yet.
No special theme this week, but here are three takeaways from recent NBA action.
The Lakers are Back?
AD is rolling, LeBron is back, and the Lakers have won 5 of their last 6. In a crowded Western Conference (more on that next) The Lakers have put themselves right back in the thick of things after the first ¼ of the season. After playing the Pacers at home, the Lakers head out on a massive 6 game road trip out east including games against the Bucks, Sixers, and Raptors, that stretch will let us know if they’re really back or just took advantage of playing a hapless Spurs team 3 times in six days, my money’s on the latter.
The West is a mess
While the Eastern Conference clearly has Boston and Milwaukee starting to separate from the pack, the top 8 teams in the West are all within 2.5 games of each other and no one is emerging as a clear favorite. The Suns are continuing to play well, The Warriors are turning it around and the Grizzlies and Nuggets are solid, but it’s hard to pinpoint who is the clear-cut favorite to represent the West a quarter of the way through the season. It’ll be fun to watch teams try to separate from the pack as the season rolls along.
Who am I kidding? Beam Team is taking this thing all the way to an NBA title, go Kings.
The Timberwolves Experiment, is it working?
The T-Wolves pulled off a shocking trade this summer, moving multiple first-round picks to pair Rudy Gobert with Karl Anthony-Towns at a time when the league has pretty much moved away from pairing two bigs. Has their zig worked while everyone else is zagging to pace and space? Well, 20 games in, we don’t know. As of this writing, they sit at 10-10 and in 10th place in the Western Conference. A play-in team just like they were last year. The Wolves are middle of the road in Offensive and Defensive rating, and surprisingly, after adding a 3-time DPOY, sit bottom 8 in opponents’ PPG. Some of that can be attributed to the team being 3rd in pace, but when you bring in a defense anchor like that, you expect more than marginal improvement over last year’s 24/30 for oPPG.
Not to mention, Anthony Edwards has taken a step back. He is scoring less and at a less efficient clip and has been quoted as blaming a clogged lane as part of the reason for his dip in production, and he might have a point. Case and point, the LA Lakers, surrounding an aggressive rim attacker with non-shooters is not a formula for success and that’s just what the Wolves did to the former first-overall pick.
The Verdict: There’s time to turn it around but early on this looks like a team that swung for the fences and struck out.
Week 6 Pick Recaps
Picks – Season (14-3)
Kings – W
Hornets – W
Thunder – W
Survivor – Season (9-3)
Hawks – W
Lakers – W
Survivor Traps (4-8)
Kings – L
Jazz – L Yes a loss, but a 1-point game is the exact game you don’t want to sweat in survivor
Week 7 Pool Picks
9-0 the past 3 weeks in pick’em and 4-0 in survivor, an 0-5 week might be looming, but if I keep rolling, I just might start lighting up a beam from my roof every night.
Heat @ Celtics 11/30 – All of Miami’s injuries may have finally unlocked Bam Adebayo offensively, he’s topped 30 in back-to-back games and looks decisive and efficient. Miami pulls off a shocker in Boston against the scorching-hot Celtics.
Warriors @ Mavericks 11/29 – It seems like the cure to the Warriors’ woes was sending James Wiseman to the G-league. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 and have won three straight. Lock them in vs a Mavs team struggling to find their identity outside of European James Harden, sorry, Luka Doncic.
Thunder @ Wolves 12/3 – I said it last week, I’m riding with SGA until the wheels fall off. Plus I just rambled about why the Wolves’ 2-big experiment is failing. Take the Thunder, even on the road.
Suns over Bulls 11/30 – If you haven’t used the Suns yet, now might be a good time to fire them up. These are two teams heading in opposite directions.
Nuggets over Rockets 11/30 – Yes, the Rockets have won two in a row and pulled off a crazy comeback against the Hawks, but the Nuggets are starting to find their groove, they won’t lose this at home.
Bucks vs Lakers 12/2 – Realistically do the Bucks lose this one? Probably not, but still best to avoid a team that’s hot and has two of the top 10 talents in the league, when healthy.
Clippers vs Kings 12/3 – In case you still aren’t paying attention to the NBA yet this year. The Kings are good, I repeat, the Kings are good. Oh and Kawhi may or may not be hurt again. I’ve lost track.