Sacramento Kings 2023-24 season preview: Keegan Murray
Sep 28, 2023, 2:18 PM | Updated: 2:20 pm
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
It’s about that time.
If you’ve been counting down the days until Sacramento Kings basketball returns, we are less than two weeks away from October 8th’s preseason opener in Vancouver, Canada.
As we prepare for another season of NBA action in the 916, it’s time to dive into this year’s Kings team and break down each player on the opening night roster.
Today, we’ll look at sophomore forward Keegan Murray, who will be looking to build off of his NBA All-Rookie First Team showing from 2022-23.
How did Keegan Murray perform during the 2022-23 season?
Murray, the Kings’ fourth-overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft out of Iowa, was a critical piece of last season’s team that made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The 22-year-old finished the regular season with averages of 12.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range over 80 appearances.
It was a record-breaking rookie season for Murray, who topped Donovan Mitchell’s rookie three-point record of 187 made triples. Murray finished the season with 206 made threes–the sixth-most during a single season in Sacramento Kings franchise history.
Murray’s 206 triples led the 2022 rookie class, with the next-closest on the leaderboard being Jabari Smith Jr. and Jaden Ivey, with 120 made triples each.
Among players who attempted at least 400 three-point field goals last season, Murray ranks fifth in three-point field goal percentage (.410). The rookie converted five or more three-point field goals in 10 games this season. No other rookie did so on more than three occasions.
The rookie didn’t have to wait long to make his first NBA Playoff appearance, as Sacramento finished the season with the third-best record in the Western Conference and played a hard-fought seven-game series against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
After struggling out of the gates, Murray finished the series strong by averaging 14.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range during Games 4 through 7.
Keegan Murray’s strengths & weaknesses
It’s hard to argue against the notion that Murray is already one of the better three-point shooters in the NBA.
During the offseason, future Hall of Famers and three-point specialists Klay Thompson and Paul George spoke highly of Murray’s three-point ability on George’s podcast, Podcast P with Paul George.
“He can shoot,” Thompson said as the two All-Stars drafted their top three-point threats in the game. “He was great in the playoffs. For a rookie, that’s a lot to make that impact. Couldn’t leave him [open]. I measure a guy, like how comfortable you feel leaving him open. I don’t feel comfortable leaving Murray open. It’s going in, you know?”
George, who selected Murray, gave his fellow Pacific Division counterpart respect while breaking down his pick.
“Even if he’s semi-[open], he’s cashing it,” George said of Murray. He’s got a cannon. He can shoot the [expletive] out of it.”
Murray’s ability to knock down the long ball on spot-up attempts, off dribble-hand-offs, and in motion off of screens make him a perfect player in Sacramento’s system that features pass-first center Domantas Sabonis and the speedy (and crafty) De’Aaron Fox.
We all know that Murray can shoot, but there will be plenty of attention to the 23-year-old’s progression in Year 2.
Murray has shown that he can be more than a three-point during his basketball career, with his college career at Iowa (23.5 points per game in 2021-22) and Summer League (24.6 points per game over nine appearances) acting as examples of the forward’s ability to create his own offense.
During this summer’s California Classic, Murray brought the house down at Golden 1 Center with a poster dunk that stunned his teammates who were sitting courtside.
The soft-spoken Murray soared through the air and delivered a poster dunk, followed by a brief stare-down of his defender in a sequence that had Kings fans dreaming of what the 6’9 wing is capable of growing into.
Murray shot 33 percent from three to ten feet from the basket last season and 38 percent from 16 feet to the three-point line. If the former Hawkeye can improve his scoring in and around the paint, Sacramento would have a forward that can be a threat both on the perimeter and in the paint.
Defense will also be an area of Murray’s game that fans will be keeping an eye on this season, something that the forward himself said he wants to work on.
Every player on the Kings’ roster needs to take a step forward on defense, but if Murray can use his length (6’9 with a 6’11 wingspan) and become a two-way player, it would be an incredible addition to Sacramento’s already impressive core.
What to expect from Keegan Murray in 2023-24
During his introductory press conference last summer, Murray told the media and fans that he felt that his pro-comp was Milwaukee Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton.
While it’s unrealistic to expect Murray to become an All-Star in 2023-24, the similarities between the two players’ first year in starting roles are uncanny.
Note: Both players were in their age 22 seasons
While this upcoming season might not mark the start of Murray’s ascension to NBA stardom, the expectations surrounding the forward are certainly higher than last fall.
Murray has proven he can be an elite marksman, but what else can he bring to the table for a Kings team that needs more of, well, everything, if they are to make it further than the first round of the postseason.
As De’Aaron Fox said during his media availability at NBA All-Star Weekend in February, Murray will need to start taking those steps forward if Sacramento is to make the leap into becoming an NBA Finals contender.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
- Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
- Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)