In this year’s draft, the Sacramento Kings shocked many NBA fans with their pick at No. 4. Their selection: Keegan Murray, a surprising name given that most analysts had Jaden Ivey as the clear-cut fourth-best player in the draft. However, I wasn’t too taken aback by their selection. In fact, I think Murray was the right call and will contribute to the Kings making a playoff push for the first time since 2006.
With a backcourt already crowded with young talent, there was no need to add another small guard to the mix, especially if you’re unsure about how that player might pan out. When you have a draft record as bad as the Kings, it’s hard to be hopeful for the future, and you just expect more of the same to continue.
Last year’s addition of Domantas Sabonis, combined with the addition of Murray and evolution of Davion Mitchell, means the Sacramento Kings could present themselves as a dark horse team going into next season.
After the conclusion of Murray’s freshman year at Iowa, nobody expected him to make as big of a jump as he did. Murray averaged just 7.2 points, 5.1 rebounds on 50.6% from the field and 29.6% from three. Just a year later, Murray took off and averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds on 55.4% from the field and just under 40% from three. Murray might be this year’s best pure scorer coming out of the draft. Murray also is the most NBA-ready player out of the class.
Standing at 6’8” and 225 pounds, Murray possesses the defensive potential needed to really turn into a two-way player. During his sophomore year, Murray was seventh in defensive rating and third in block percentage in the Big Ten conference.
Keegan Murray and Kevin Durant have something in common as well. They are the only two players in NCAA basketball history with more than 800 points, 60 three-pointers and 60 blocks in a single season. It should be noted, though, that I’m not comparing Murray to Durant — just the fact that he’s in the record books next to Durant shows the level of talent this young man has.
Murray’s advanced stats are also out of this world. He led the nation in plus/minus at 15.7, meaning Iowa won by 15.7 points when Murray was on the court. He also tops the list in win shares at 8.7, which is a stat that determines how many wins produced as an individual.
What’s more, the Kings aren’t asking all that much out of Murray. They’re asking him to walk in as possibly the number three or four scorer, something Murray has proven himself to be capable of.
For Kings fans who were disappointed in their selection of Murray over Ivey, hopefully Murray’s play in the summer league thus far has eased your frustration. In Murray’s five summer league games, he’s averaging 20.4 points and 7.0 rebounds on 48.6/44.1 shooting splits. This past weekend, he went toe-to-toe with No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, nailing a game-tying three to force the game into overtime. Banchero and the Orlando Magic reigned supreme that night as they squealed out a win in double overtime, but not without heavy resistance from Murray and the Kings.
When we look back at the 2022 NBA draft, specifically the Sacramento Kings selection of Keegan Murray, it’s quite possible that everyone will know the team made the right decision. I think Murray has the potential to be the star that brings the Kings back to relevance.