Keegan Murray made history on Thursday, becoming the highest-ranking Iowa basketball player ever selected in the NBA Draft.
Sacramento selected the former Hawkeye with the fourth overall pick in the draft, and before Murray could leave the Brooklyn podium, design analysts were elated with the Kings’ move.
“Keegan Murray was arguably the best overall player in the country on both sides of the floor last year,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said on the network’s NBA Draft broadcast. “He went from a year ago averaging seven or eight points per game to an average of 24. I think he’s the most efficient player in this draft and the most NBA ready to plug in now.”
Murray is on a team looking for an established wing. The Kings have one in Iowa-born Harrison Barnes, but he’s poised to become an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season. The same goes for Kings forwards Maurice Harkless, Trey Lyles and Chimezie Metu.
So when Malika Andrews of ESPN asked Kendrick Perkins what he thought of the choice. the former NBA player raved about how Murray fits in alongside his new teammate, star point guard De’Aaron Fox.
“The Kings have shown us that they are committed to (Fox),” said Perkins. “He’s their franchise player. Why not add a wing? The wing is the most important position in the NBA. Think about it. The Golden State Warriors won thanks to Andrew Wiggins and the way he could play defensively and offensively.”
More:Keegan Murray of Iowa basketball selected No. 4 Sacramento Kings in 2022 NBA Draft
Jay Bilas: Keegan Murray Isn’t An ‘Instagram Sensation’ But Does Everything Right
Murray is not a flashy player by any means. Bilas didn’t see that as a problem prior to the draft, and he’s not changing his mind now that he’s found his NBA home.
“He’s ready for the NBA now,” Bilas said. “His basketball IQ is huge. He’s very smart, feels good, reads very well and he pursues the ball. He’s not going to be an Instagram sensation because he’s not a spectacular dunker and all those things – even if he thinks a lot – but he plays smart every time and he does it over and over.”
Last season, Murray boasted the best defensive rating (96.8 points allowed per 100 possessions) and defensive winning shares (2) of his Hawkeye teammates.
“He has great hands,” Bilas said. “You name the deflections he gets – he may not be the most dynamic guy out there in front of people, but he recovers great. He’s always in the right position. He talks, he’s got everything. He’s not a spectacular athlete who comes to jump off the page, but if you look at the page at the end of the game, he’s scratched every major category.”
More:Keegan Murray NBA Draft Outlook Report: Sacramento Kings Lands Direct Contribution
Keegan Murray compares to Kendrick Perkins’ Pascal Siakam
Perkins believes the Hawkeye star plays the same way as Pascal Siakam, a striker with the Toronto Raptors.
“He kind of reminds me of Pascal Siakam,” Perkins said. “He can take advantage of guys when he has a mismatch. He has the size and height. He knows his part sometimes. He plays the ball well. He is active with deflections on the defensive side, putting them in transition points. That is what I love about Keegan Murray – his size, his athleticism along with his IQ and sense of the game.”
Siakam averaged 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals last season. He was an NBA all-star in 2020, so the comparison is nothing to scoff at.
More:Keegan Murray talks about his impending NBA roster and 2022 drafting process
Jon Rothstein: Keegan Murray is a ‘better version of Boris Diaw’
University basketball analyst Jon Rothstein asked an interesting question after the Kings won Murray with the fourth overall pick in the draft.
“The question remains: If Murray were playing for a blueblood program and not Iowa, would he be eligible for a top three pick in the NBA Draft?” asked Rothstein. He went from 16 made threes to 66 from his freshman into sophomore year, and he played seven games last season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Murray shot 40% of the 3-point range last season and also proved time and time again. again, that he is able to defend.
“Murray is someone who will be an NBA starter and look like a better version of Boris Diaw when he starred under Mike D’Antoni with the Phoenix Suns.”
Diaw averaged 8.6 points and 4.4 rebounds for his NBA career, making 33.6% of his 3-point attempts. With the Suns in D’Antoni’s quick charge, Diaw averaged more than 13 points per game over two seasons.
Eddie Johnson: ‘Murray will be fantastic in Sacramento’
Murray was chosen Thursday over Purdue’s Jayden Ivey, another top player in the draft. Many analysts predicted that Ivey would land at Sacramento or go for Murray, but the Big Ten star was ultimately selected at number 5 by the Detroit Pistons.
“This could work out well for both teams,” said ESPN’s Fran Fraschella†
Ivey didn’t work with the Kings this offseason, which made it clear that he didn’t want to finish in Sacramento.
Eddie Johnson, who played in the NBA for 17 years believes this worked out for the best.
“I like that a guy is open with a team and says, ‘Hey, I don’t want to go there,'” he said. “It allows that team to make a decision. Ivey wanted to stay in the Midwest, to stay close to his mother…I think Murray is going to do a great job in Sacramento. I think both teams will win.”
Learn more about Keegan Murray and the 2022 NBA Draft
Adam Hensley is a digital producer at the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Hens83 or reach him at email@example.com.