In the modern NBA, a lengthy wing that can play both sides of the ball is one of the most ideal prospects for teams picking high. Iowa sophomore Keegan Murray is exactly that. Murray spent a total of two years at Iowa. In his first year, he struggled with efficiency as he averaged just seven points per game, and shot 29.6 percent from the three-point line. Despite his first-year offensive struggles, Murray worked on his offensive game.
In his second year at Iowa, Murray made the jump from bench player to star and blossomed into one of the best players in college basketball. Murray improved his three-point percentage by 10.2 percent and tallied a true shooting percentage of 64.5 percent. His true shooting percentage was among the best of college players and was very impressive for someone that shot 166 three-pointers during the year. Murray’s breakout campaign was recognized by many, as he won The Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Not only did Murray succeed as a player, but he also led his team to a Big Ten Season Championship.
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Name: Keegan Murray
Jersey: No. 15
Weight: 225 lbs
When you first watch Murray, what stands out is his ability to score from all levels of the floor. Murray possesses a rare offensive versatility, as he shot near 40 percent from three-point land, and shot layups 15 percent higher than the Division I average. In transition, Murray fully displays his elite ball skills for a 6’8″ forward. Often he will rebound the ball and take off down the court fully in control, before scoring a transition layup.
Not only is Murray versatile on offense, but also on defense. He has the ability to guard interior-scoring bigs, using his 90-inch wingspan to challenge and block shots. Although standing 6’8″, Murray can effectively guard perimeter scoring guards and forwards, utilizing his above-average lateral movement. Murray brought up his steal per game average by 0.8 last year, showing that he could force turnovers on the perimeter consistently. When it comes to rebounding Murray is no less impressive. He averaged about three offensive rebounds a game, frequently giving his team second chance opportunities.
As a prospect Murray is extremely complete, the weaknesses in his game are both small and ones that can be fixed at the NBA level. Offensively, Murray does not have the strongest in-between game. He sometimes fails to successfully rise over the top of defenders and hit mid-range shots. Murray is not the only prospect who struggles with this, top-three projected pick Jabari Smith out of Auburn has the exact same issue. When looking to score inside, Murray tends to expose the ball, leading to frequent loose balls and steals at his expense.
Defensively, Murray is complete but has more room to improve there than he does offensively. Occasionally in college, Murray could be seen as weak defending in the post. He would allow bigger and heavier forwards and centers to back him down and score easily. Examples of this were such as in this year’s Big Ten Semi-Final, where Indiana forward Trayce-Jackson Davis scored 31 points on Murray, shooting 71 percent from the field. Unless Murray can put on more weight and or muscle, this will only be a bigger problem for him in the NBA.
Murray is a player who projects extremely well to the NBA. Offensively, he has proven he can shoot the three-point shot at an elite level and dominantly score at the basket. Murray’s sole offensive struggle is that he lacks a consistent mid-range game. This is common for many prospects, and it’s extremely fixable. If utilized correctly, Murray will be an offensive force for years to come.
On the other side of the court, Murray is very complete as well. From freshman to sophomore Murray displayed serious improvement in terms of his perimeter defense. His interior defense is a two-sided story. In interior-transition defense Murray is phenomenal, often making athletic chase-down blocks. Conversely, when the pace of the game is slowed down, Murray’s interior defense deteriorates. If Murray can put on a few more pounds of muscle, his ability to hold his ground in the post against bigs can be fixed. Teams that lack a score-first wing, would be the best fit for Murray. His best fits are Sacramento at four or Indiana at six. Portland at seven could happen, but it’s not as good of a fit as the others.
Projected Draft Range: 4-8
Likely Landing Spot: Sacramento Kings
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