San Antonio Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili believes that his teammate Dejounte Murray has the potential to become an All-Star, saying he’s very optimistic about the young point guard’s future in the NBA. The 40-year-old Ginobili said Murray’s rise to success will depend a lot on his play in the next five years, but the veteran shooting guard said the second-year point guard is a “very talented kid.” Murray, for his part, said Ginobili’s pronouncement means a lot to him, adding that he needs to step up his game to reach the level of success that his veteran teammate envisions for him.

The 21-year-old Murray is expected to become a huge contributor for the Spurs this season, with veteran playmaker Tony Parker still recovering from a torn left quadriceps tendon that he sustained in their Western Conference Semifinal Series against the Houston Rockets. Murray said he welcomes the challenge of running the Spurs’ offense and expressed readiness over what coach Gregg Popovich orders him to do. “Whatever he needs me to do, whether it’s five minutes or zero or 20, I’m willing to help this team and bring my energy,” said Murray.

Murray to run offense with Patty Mills

Last season, Murray averaged 3.4 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists over 8.5 minutes a game last season. When Parker went down with the injury in Game 2, Popovich called on Murray to play big minutes.

Murray started twice in the preseason, averaging 5.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 turnovers over 15.3 minutes per game. This season, Murray is expected to start for the Spurs until Parker returns in December. He will share backcourt duties with Patty Mills, who recently signed a four-year deal worth $50 million to remain with the Spurs.

In their 122-100 win over the Denver Nuggets, Murray tallied eight points, two rebounds, and six assists in 26 minutes of action.

Ginobili anticipates slow start for Spurs

With superstar Kawhi Leonard missing preseason time as he recovers from right quadriceps tendinopathy, Ginobili expects the Spurs to have a slow start in the regular season.

"We are not going to start full throttle," Ginobili said, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN. Ginobili is confident that the Spurs will regain their cohesion while the season progresses. With Leonard leading the way, the Spurs made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. However, the Spurs were swept by eventual champions Golden State Warriors after Leonard went down with an ankle injury in Game 1 and missed the rest of the series. Leonard led the team in scoring last season with an average of 25.5 points per game.