DeJounte Murray, a guard out of the University of Washington, had high hopes for the 2016 NBA Draft. After signing with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul, the same agency that represents LeBron James, Tristan Thompson and now the No. 1 overall pick in the Draft, Ben Simmons, Murray was confident he’d be selected somewhere in the top 10 of Thursday night’s festivities.
The 19-year-old averaged 16 points and six rebounds per game during his one and only year as a Huskie, and though both his stringy body and game need work, his length on defense and his offensive potential made him feel like a lock to head to a team in the lottery.
That didn’t happen. Murray wasn’t selected until the 29th pick in the first round, when the San Antonio Spurs came calling. There are worse places to land than in the Texas heartland alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and the solid but aging Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli—though that probably wasn’t enough to quell Murray’s disappointment in his freefall through the first round.
James, who has served as a mentor to both Simmons and Murray throughout the draft process, had words of wisdom for the rookie once his name was finally called, telling Murray, “You might not feel like you landed where you wanted, but you’re with the best organization in the NBA.”
After the initial disappointment washes off in the days to come, LeBron’s message should ring true with Murray. He’s in the NBA and immediately has a chance to compete for an NBA championship. If he gets that ring, no one will remember where he was drafted on Thursday night.