NBA

NBA Draft Player Profile: Keegan Murray

Jun 20, 2022, 6:55 PM | Updated: 6:59 pm
PISCATAWAY, NJ - JANUARY 19: Keegan Murray #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes in action against the Rutgers S...
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

It’s Draft Week!

As we prepare to take in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night, let’s take a look at some of the notable prospects that the Sacramento Kings could look to select with the fourth pick.

Today, we will take a look at talented Iowa forward Keegan Murray.

Keegan Murray | 6’8 225 lbs | SF/PF | Iowa

Projected draft range: 4th through 7th

2021-22 stats: 23.5 PTS, 8.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.3 STL, 1.9 BLK, 55% FG, 40% 3PT, 31.9 MIN

Iowa’s standout forward Keegan Murray has long been a player of interest in the Kings fanbase after the first-team All-American arguably had the best collegiate season out of any draft prospect.

Murray will turn 22 this in August on the heels of a breakout sophomore season that saw him average 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game on 55 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Seeing that Kings All-Star center Domantas Sabonis is a pass-first big that can do damage in the paint and on the glass, Monte McNair’s squad could use a player like Murray that can create his offense on his own and knock down jumpers from mid-range to the perimeter, something that Marvin Bagley III and other power forwards that have come through Sacramento in recent years haven’t been able to do consistently.

Is selecting Murray at fourth a tad high, though? Most mock drafts have the 6’8, 225-pound forward going in the fifth-seventh range. The hotly debated “should the Kings draft Jaden Ivey” conversation goes hand in hand with the Murray decision. What’s the right move?

When you look at each of his past two drafts, McNair has said that he will always select the best player available, regardless of position. McNair proved that he will stand by that reasoning when he selected two guards (Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell) in back-to-back drafts.

Most mock drafts out there have the Kings selecting Ivey with the fourth pick, but reports surfaced this week stating that the young guard would prefer that a team other than Sacramento picks him in the draft.

When Murray met with the media on Thursday morning, the forward had a very different response when asked if he would be open to the Kings selecting him with the fourth pick in the draft:

“For me, being a King, I would want to be a part of that, that culture and be a part of that group that can turn that franchise around and get to the playoffs,” Murray said during the NBA’s Draft prospect media availability on Thursday. “I think that it would be a great opportunity.”

Drafting Murray looks good on paper for the Kings. Murray is a lengthy (seven-foot wingspan) forward that possesses the ability to protect the rim (1.9 blocks per game), defend on-ball (1.3 steals per game), and knock down shots on the perimeter (40 percent from beyond the arc).

In 2021-22, Murray did a tremendous job of defending at a high level and posing as a near-elite perimeter threat. According to multiple scouting reports, Murray’s athleticism, size, and leadership have him tabbed as one of the more polished prospects in this draft.

Sacramento’s forward depth is virtually non-existent behind veteran Harrison Barnes, meaning that changes are coming to the Kings’ frontline this summer.

Could that change start during Thursday’s draft as McNair looks to fill the power forward hole with Murray? According to sources close to the Kings, the team is high on Murray and has been speaking with the 21-year-old for weeks. Owner Vivek Ranadive is a fan of Murray and is reportedly interested in bringing the All-Big 10 forward to Sacramento.

Of course, Ranadive isn’t the one calling the shots when it comes to basketball decisions–that falls on McNair.

We’re speeding towards a resolution to this draft, but don’t be surprised if NBA commissioner Adam Silver calls Murray’s name when the Kings are on the clock.

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