Dejounte Murray plans to lead Hawks in effort, defense

Never being content and always being able to improve have been staples of many professional athletes and Hawks players are no exception. Setting goals, fostering a good environment and player development take many forms: From getting better defensively, to communicating better and knowing the schemes.

Player development comes from both the organization helping and sometimes asking the players to do something they do not typically do, plus the player taking action and identifying ways to get better.

ExploreThe AJC's complete coverage on the Hawks

Starting with the emphasis on defense and competition in training camp, the Hawks’ Dejounte Murray set the tone early when talking about his goals.

“Defense is about showing effort, I will bring what I learned both as a leader and vocally as everyone buys in. Everyone has to buy in and push each other and seeing everyone showing up was good.

“Ready to go compete and earn my team’s trust in training camp,” he said.

While Murray looks to bring the intensity into camp, coach Nate McMillan and star Trae Young both are committed to improving the defense, starting with Young putting on weight to hold up better during the rigorous season.

“I’m a sponge to learn new things and learning from Steph (Curry) a couple of times was great. As I get older, I’m going to try to keep more muscle than fat on,” Young said.

Sticking with his commitment to improving communication, McMillan flew out to meet at Young’s home in Oklahoma City for two days and highlighted the need for the face of the franchise to be a more vocal defensive leader as Young grows more in the league.

Health was a major concern for the 2021 Hawks. This year it seems that everyone is coming in healthy except Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had a procedure on his knee during the offseason.

Being healthy will allow the Hawks to create an identity for themselves, with the addition of new faces to the team.

McMillan had this question for his team on the eve of training camp: “Who are the Atlanta Hawks? Two years ago we went to the Eastern Conference Finals and last year were a play-In team. Which Hawks team are we and which team do we want to be?”

The way the Hawks answer McMillan and the way that they develop their chemistry, defensive acumen, and other goals will have a large impact on the success of the season.