The Iowa Hawkeyes have been consistently near the top of the Big Ten and have often had a talented forward as their best player. Keegan Murray was that forward for the program this year. After a fairly quiet freshman year with a limited role of 18 minutes per game he took the Big Ten by storm and dominated in his sophomore season averaging 31.9 minutes per game. With his level of play he has earned himself a lottery selection and perhaps even a top ten selection in the 2022 NBA Draft.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) April 2, 2022
The first eye-popping number that nearly jumps off the page when evaluating Keegan Murray is his points per game average this past season. He averaged 23.5 points per game which ranked fourth best in the entire NCAA this past season. The forward is not just a typical one-dimensional scoring forward on the court. Murray is a three-level scorer and can score from nearly anywhere on the court. His three-point game, mid-range game, and post-up game all have good polish and should translate to the NBA.
Murray is capable of scoring on or off the ball and should be able to do both at an NBA level. He is a solid spot-up shooter and creates space well. Half-court and fast break opportunities are both well within his capabilities. There arent many areas of his scoring ability that he isn’t incredibly efficient at on the court. Overall he shot 55.4 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from the three-point line. Keegan Murray’s scoring should translate very well to the NBA and that alone will keep him on the court.
Size and Atheltic Ability
Keegan Murray plays a lot like a scoring wing, but at 6’8″ and around 225 lbs he has a frame that would make it difficult for many wings to guard him. Pair those numbers with his athletic ability and you have a nightmare matchup when game planning on how to guard him. While his preferred style seems to be scoring around the rim with more touch and precision, the person defending him can not overlook his ability to just get to the rim and score with his athletic ability. Murray presents a nightmare defensive matchup because of his skill, size, and athletic capabilities on the offensive side of the ball.
Just Keegan Murray things
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) March 17, 2022
Keegan Murray is a versatile basketball player and not just when he scores. His scoring ability is his most useful skill, but thanks to his size he is also a more than capable defender. He should be able to defend against both forward positions and could be capable against centers and perhaps even shooting guards. In his sophomore year with Iowa, he averaged 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Between scoring and defense, there are plenty of skills that Murray possesses that NBA teams will value. He also averaged 8.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. These skill sets should allow him to be in an NBA rotation from day one and he will be incredibly efficient.
While at Iowa, Murray did not pass the ball that often either due to the team’s scheme or a lack of passing ability. He averaged just 1.5 assists in his sophomore year and just did not show much when passing the ball. Defensively while talented and capable he does have the tendency to gamble too much for steals or blocks sometimes. One “concern” that some teams will care about is his age. He will be 22 years old before his rookie season begins and that could turn a team looking for more youth off the forward some. Finally, a minor concern is his ability to create his own shot on the three-point line. While not major he did showcase being less comfortable there than anywhere else when scoring on the court.
NBA Comparison: Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam and Keegan Murray’s paths to the NBA are completely different, but their skill sets and ages entering the NBA is similar. Versatile forwards that can score and defend are a top priority for NBA teams in the current era of basketball. Teams selecting in the top ten are typically there due to a lack of talent on the court. Murray will be an immediate infusion of talent and NBA readiness. While his age may make some teams look the other way, other teams will give him an extra look because of the immediate impact he could have on the court. Projecting Rookie of the Year is impossible at this stage, but Murray could at least make a run at the award next year in the NBA.