Chris Mannix says Keegan Murray seen as that ‘next star’ for the Kings

Jul 11, 2023, 4:51 PM | Updated: 4:52 pm

Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket against Austin Reaves #15 of the Los...

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Keegan Murray #13 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket against Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Arena on November 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

While the rest of the NBA world expected the Sacramento Kings to make a big swing this offseason, the organization believes they may have their next budding star in forward Keegan Murray.

The former No. 4 overall pick is reportedly seen as a “potential franchise player” by the Kings, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. The popular writer joined Ryen Russillo on his podcast recently, breaking down everything from the 2023 Summer League to the that’s next for Sacramento. And at the forefront of that conversation was how the front office believe in the games they already have in house.

“They’re just a big believer in in what they’re doing internally,” Mannix said on the podcast Tuesday. “They believe that internal growth next year is going to make them a better team. And there’s reasons to believe that.”

One of the reasons is the development of Keegan Murray this summer. The 23-year-old forward lit up the California  Classic, scoring 41 points in his final game of the series. Because of that, Monte McNair & Co. see the Iowa alum has a future cornerstone for the franchise.

“I mean, it is the Sacramento summer league but man, Keegan Murray looked great in that brief period,” Mannix added. “They look at [Keegan Murray] and see a potential franchise player. They believe he’s as good as anyone they have on their roster, including De’Aaron Fox, including Domantas Sabonis. They believe he’s that next star for their team. So if he takes a jump, that makes an already really good team better next year.”

In fact, that is Sacramento’s philosophy for the time being, wanting to allow their young core more time to mesh with coach Mike Brown’s system. And while last season was a lot of fun, the Kings are expected to have higher expectations heading into 2024.

“They think these guys are gonna take another step forward, another year in Mike Brown system, you know, playing a little bit better defense, maybe they’ll take another step forward,” Mannix stated. “Last year was the honeymoon year. They ended the playoff drought, they got to the postseason…This year, there’s gonna be pressure, to not just get to the playoffs, but win a series maybe win two series, you know, advance deep [into the postseason].”

It’s clear that McNair isn’t afraid too take big swings, especially for bigger stars. But for now, Sacramento looks to run it back with a 2.0 version of what made them success last season.

“When you talk to Kings officials, they believe that their internal improvements will surprise people.That their young guys are ready to take another step, to get to another level,” Mannix said.

Keegan Murray was exceptional his rookie season, setting the record for most three-pointers by a first-year player at 206. He finished with 12.2 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per game on 45.3% shooting overall. Murray enters the second year of his four-year rookie deal.

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