Murray Shines In Summer League Debut As Kings Roll Over Warriors

Jul 2, 2022, 6:20 PM | Updated: 7:02 pm

(Sactown Sports 1140)...

(Sactown Sports 1140)

(Sactown Sports 1140)

Coming into Saturday night’s California Classic opener, it was fair to say that there were some heavy expectations for Sacramento Kings fourth-overall pick Keegan Murray to put on an impressive performance.

Are you not entertained?

Murray put on an absolute clinic during Sacramento’s 86-68 win over the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center, dropping 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field and four-of-five from beyond the arc to go along with eight rebounds over 28 minutes of action.

“I saw that first shot go in, and it just sparked my confidence the rest of the way,” Murray said of his 26-point outing. “For me, I feel that the sky is the limit. To reach my potential I have to go day by day. It starts in Summer League and that’s what I’m focused on right now.”

If you tuned in wanting to see Murray score his first points in a Sacramento Kings uniform, you wouldn’t have to wait long following tip-off on Saturday night.

Upon controlling the opening tip, Kings guard Frankie Ferrari immediately found Murray on the perimeter as the rookie went on to knock down his first look of the night from beyond the three-point arc. Murray’s triple took place just 13 seconds into the contest, setting the 21-year-old up for a big night at Chase Center.

Murray led all scorers with seven first-quarter points to go along with five rebounds over 10 minutes of play to lead Sacramento to a 17-13 lead after one period of play.

Murray looked every bit like a top-five pick during the first half, doing his part on the offensive end and cleaning up on the glass. Over 16 minutes of play, the 6’8 forward tallied up a game-high 13 points on five-of-eight shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds during the first two quarters.

As play entered the second half, the rookie injected a burst of energy into the Chase Center crowd during an electric stretch that saw the Iowa product score eight-straight points for Sacramento. Murray converted back-to-back triples before converting a lay-in attempt to push himself over the 20-point mark with over six minutes remaining in the third period.

As the Kings entered the fourth quarter with a 67-52 lead, Murray’s 26 points (10-of-13 shooting) acted as the difference-maker as Golden State’s defense struggled to find an answer for the rookie.

Sacramento breezed through the fourth quarter without much of a fight from a struggling Warriors offense (39% from the field) to claim its first win of the summer.

“Today was a good day,” Kings head coach Jordi Fernández said postgame. “We’re trying to build something in the long run. Today was a good start to that.”

Murray’s comfortability on the offensive end looked instinctual. It was as if he had been playing at the NBA level for years by the way he maneuvered his way around the arc, refraining from forcing shot attempts or passes (no turnovers). The forward’s ability to catch-and-shoot is something that has to excite Kings general manager Monte McNair as franchise cornerstones De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will surely benefit from having a knock-down threat on the perimeter.

“He’s going to be a very, very good NBA player,” Fernández said of Murray’s successful debut. Every time, it seems like he does the right thing. He doesn’t force it, he makes it look simple.”

It was only one game–one Summer League game, nonetheless–but it’s hard to not feel inspired by Murray’s performance. When the Kings used their prized fourth selection in June 24th’s NBA Draft, there were plenty of questions and concerns surrounding both the forward’s ability and McNair’s decision-making.

One game into Summer League, those that have felt worried or concerned have to be feeling a little bit better after watching Murray perform in his Kings debut.

Observations & Takeaways

  • Second-year center Neemias Queta did a lot of damage on the defensive end on Saturday, finishing the night with two steals and two blocked shots over 21 minutes of play.
  • Rookie guard Keon Ellis is a player to keep an eye on this summer. The Alabama product is extremely active on both sides of the floor and a very strong rebounder at his position. In 2021-22, the 22-year-old pulled down 6.1 rebounds and swiped 1.9 steals per game. In his first taste of NBA Summer League action, Ellis finished the night with two points, six rebounds, and three steals over 21 minutes.

  • Former Duke and Creighton guard Alex O’Connell chipped in with 10 points, seven boards, and three steals over 20 minutes off of the bench.

Pen on Paper

Shortly before Sacramento and Golden State tipped off on Saturday, the Kings announced that they had signed fourth-overall pick Keegan Murray to a contract.

“Keegan is an incredibly versatile, well-rounded player with a high basketball IQ,” Kings general manager Monte McNair said of the signing through a release. “He will be a tremendous asset to our team and we are excited to welcome him to the Kings family.”

Along with the Murray signing, Sacramento also announced that they have signed center Neemias Queta and guard Keon Ellis to two-way contracts for the 2022-23 season.

Queta, 22, split time between Sacramento and G-League affiliate Stockton during the 2021-22 season. The Utah State product averaged 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game over 11 appearances in the G-League.

Ellis, who went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft in June, averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game during his sophomore season at the University of Alabama.

Coming Up

Sacramento will play its second game of the California Classic on Sunday afternoon when they face the 27th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Nikola Jović, and the Miami Heat.

Following Sunday’s matchup, the Classic will pause for the 4th of July holiday on Monday before concluding on Tuesday afternoon.

Sacramento Kings Summer League Schedule

California Classic at Chase Center (July 2-5th)

  • vs Miami Heat – SundayJuly 3 – 2:00 pm PST
  • vs Los Angeles Lakers – TuesdayJuly 5 – 2:30 pm PST

NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas (July 7-17th)

  • vs Orlando Magic – Saturday, July 9 – 1:00 pm PST
  • vs Indiana Pacers – Sunday, July 10 – 12:00 pm PST
  • vs Oklahoma City Thunder – Wednesday, July 13 – 5:00 pm PST
  • vs Phoenix Suns – Friday, July 15 – 5:00 pm PST
  • Final game TBD



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