Keegan Murray enters the 2022 NBA Draft as one of the most
proven pro-ready prospects available. During a breakout sophomore
campaign for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Murray averaged 23.5 points, 8.7
rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.9 blocks per game on an
excellent 63.8% True Shooting percentage.
There are not many holes in Murray’s game, but there are plenty
of questions revolving around his age. After attending prep school
following high school graduation, Murray will be a 22-year-old
rookie when he enters the league. Is Murray’s ceiling truly
star-level or just a sturdy, reliable starting piece you can rely
upon for years to come?
When Murray spoke to the media during the NBA Draft Combine in
Chicago, he noted why those doubts are off base.
“I would say I’m a 21-year-old in an 18-year-old’s body,” Murray
said. “In high school I was a 5-foot-10 sophomore and ended up
growing to 6-foot-8 my senior year. I was a late bloomer in that
Murray was a true late bloomer because of his physical stature
and lack of attention from Division I colleges. Murray received one
offer on that level alongside multiple D-II scholarships. Deciding
to go the prep school route to boost his collegiate stock more,
Murray shined and eventually landed a roster spot with Iowa.
The first year for Murray in the Hawkeyes’ program was spent
learning from Luka Garza, one of the most impactful college players
in 2020-21. Being able to soak up knowledge from an upperclassmen
like Garza helped make Murray’s transition into the No. 1 offensive
role go much smoother.
“He’s been one of the guys I talk to the most just because I
played with him for a year,” Murray said of Garza. “He’s on a
two-way contract (with the Detroit Pistons). He’s gotten the best
of both worlds. Yeah, he’s been a key influence on me being back in
Iowa City a little bit, just texting, communicating with him see
what he’s going through.”
Last season was the first time Murray was depended upon in a
high-usage role. He’s just scratching the surface of what his
potential could be as a scoring wing who can hold his own on the
other end of the court as well.
“If you’re comparing me on age, not what I do on the court, then
maybe that’s another conversation,” Murray said. “For me, it’s
whatever I do on the court. Age is something I can’t control.”
Whatever franchise Murray is drafted to next month will be
receiving a reliable long-term cornerstone. Murray’s two-way
versatility makes him a coveted asset, which is why there’s no
doubt he will be an early lottery pick.
At 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Keegan Murray has a high
motor and does a lot of the “little things'' that contribute to
winning, and he is a terrific defender. Murray also scored 23.5
points per game this season. In addition, his ability to attack
close-outs and score from multiple levels have allowed him to carry
a greater offensive load. Murray was a candidate for National
Player of the Year and has played himself into top-10 consideration
in the 2022 NBA Draft.
(It sure is fun to envision Murray playing in Rick Carlisle’s
system alongside a young core consisting of Tyrese Haliburton,
Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson.)
The lighthearted, calm-natured presence of Murray exudes from
him. He’s never pressing in crunch-time situations. Seemingly
always making the right reads on the basketball court, Murray’s
floor will be one where he feels destined to be around in the NBA
for the next decade-plus. Only a few years prior, the NBA was an
unimaginable thought for Murray.
“If you told me three years from now I’d be in this position, I
would kinda smirk at you and laugh, but I’m just honored and
grateful,” Murray said.
There aren't many prospects who check every box from an and
off-court perspective. Murray does exactly that, which is why he’ll
be so highly coveted. Look at the impact he’s presented across a
large sample size, and just imagine him within NBA pace-and-space
If there’s one player to bet on as a hit as a reliable
professional basketball player, it’s most definitely Keegan Murray.
Don’t try to poke imaginary holes just because of his age.
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