Dejounte Murray explains how Kawhi Leonard transformed him into a defensive threat with the Spurs

Dejounte Murray, a former San Antonio Spurs guard who is currently a member of the Atlanta Hawks, detailed how Kawhi Leonard transformed him into a defensive threat.

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Dejounte Murray of the Atlanta Hawks is one of the league’s greatest two-way players and takes great satisfaction in his ability to shut down opponents.

While his time with the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich helped build Murray into a defensive threat, it was Kawhi Leonard who encouraged Murray to take pleasure in his defence.

The former University of Washington star was recently featured on Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s All The Smoke podcast, where he discussed how Kawhi mentored him and helped shape him into the player he is today.

“Kawhi is the reason I made that all-defensive team my sophomore year. He came to me and he was like buddy, don’t worry about getting 15, 20 points, go make the all-defensive team.

He told me that if you make that all-defensive team in Year 2, I guarantee you’ll get on the floor because defence gets you on the court, especially in San Antonio, so go make that all-defensive team now you’ve branded yourself.

You can play defence, so they have to put you on the court. So, if you’re on the court, you’ll have to be able to play offence as well.”

Dejounte Murray also highlighted how Leonard’s unrivaled work ethic inspired him to be better every day, despite having all the awards conceivable.

“Aside from that, I observed him show up every day. Off days, game days, before all of that, 20 or 30 minutes of work.

That was all he desired. So, this MF is a Finals MVP, DPOY, and All-Star, but he’s at the gym like he doesn’t have any of it. So I saw it and thought, “I’ve got no reason to be.”

Murray had little playing time in his rookie year of 2016-17, but that quickly changed after seeing Kawhi, with his minutes more than doubling in 2017-18.

Of course, Leonard eventually left for the Toronto Raptors in the summer of 2018, but not before leaving an indelible mark on the Spurs franchise and, most crucially, Dejounte Murray.

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