Dejounte Murray embracing leadership role with Hawks

The Hawks added another leader to their roster after the team acquired guard Dejounte Murray during the offseason. With training camp fully underway, the Hawks have begun to lean into the initiative Murray has taken.

Despite Murray missing some practice last week due to a non-COVID illness, the 26-year old has stepped into a role as one of the Hawks’ leaders. Murray averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists last season with the Spurs and the Hawks expect him to be a strong backcourt partner for Trae Young.

In addition, the team expects Murray to also help reshape the team’s mindset on defense. That’s something that Murray said he’s ready to take on and Hawks coach Nate McMillan has already seen it in the team’s practices.

“I think he’s a leader,” McMillan said. “I think he, you know, he has a voice but he leads by example. His presence out on the floor commands respect. I think the guys that he’s played with, which is mostly that first unit, they responded to him being out on the floor. He has been comfortable with running the team. And I like what I see.”

Murray is the presumptive starter alongside Young, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela. Those four players have built up a rapport over the last few years, so Murray has had to strike the right balance with using his voice in practice.

“Well, I think it is both ways,” Murray said. “I’m really excited to learn everybody, you know. It’s not just my teammates or coaches, it’s the whole staff, we’re going to get familiar with one another. As far as the basketball side, coach and you know, Trae, and you go down the line, everybody else has been helping me understand the system and what we’re trying to do here, and as far as me, I want to win. So, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

The Hawks will benefit from that intensity that Murray is ready to bring to the team. McMillan said that Murray brings plenty of energy and toughness to the roster and the team and that he was happy to see the guard back at practice once he was recovered.

“I’m just being vocal,” Murray said. “I’m just a natural leader. So you know, I’m not holding back. Coach doesn’t want me to hold back. My teammates don’t want me to hold back. So if they see something from me, they, explain it to me or we move on or if I see something, I’m gonna speak up, because at the end of the day, we all have the same goal. So we want to bring the best out of one another. So you know, helping each other, is gonna allow us to do that.”

Injury notes:

Jalen Johnson and Trent Forrest will not make the trip to Abu Dhabi to join the team for exhibition games against the Bucks this week. The two have been dealing with a non-COVID illness and could not make the initial team flight.