Getting to know Kings rookie Keegan Murray: His game, his personality, his bowling score
The Kings have already learned a lot about rookie first-round draft pick Keegan Murray just three games into his first NBA summer.
For instance, he’s not that great at bowling. That much was clear when he bowled a 131 during an off-day team outing on the Fourth of July.
Fortunately for the Kings, Murray is much better on the basketball court. He can run. He can shoot. He can pass, rebound and defend.
Sacramento summer league coach Jordi Fernandez was asked what he has learned about Murray off the court after the Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers 87-75 on Tuesday at Chase Center in San Francisco to finish undefeated at the California Classic.
“Very good teammate, really smart, he listens,” Fernandez said. “When you come out as the No. 4 pick, sometimes you can get caught into — the NBA is a big business, right? — but this kid is all about doing the right things.”
If the California Classic crowned an MVP, it would have been Murray. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward from Iowa averaged 19.7 rebounds, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 assists in three games. He shot 51.1% from the field and 43.8% from 3-point range. He only got to the free-throw line six times, but he never missed.
Murray led all players in scoring and field goals made. He was tied for first in defensive rebounds and tied for sixth in offensive rebounds.
Murray ranked second in rebounds and field-goal attempts. He was fourth in 3-point attempts, ninth in 3-point percentage, 10th in blocks, 11th in steals and 14th in field-goal percentage.
“He’s playing on both ends of the floor, which is important, not just in summer league, but for the Sacramento Kings, and that’s just going to help us be a really good team,” Fernandez said. “So far, I’m very impressed with Keegan.”
Some have compared Murray’s subtle nature and mild mannerisms to the likes of Tim Duncan and Grant Hill. His game has drawn comparisons to Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris and Harrison Barnes, among others. Murray seems better suited for power forward than small forward at this point, but Fernandez believes he will be capable of playing either position as he learns to defend ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll.
Fernandez has compared Murray to four-time All-Star Paul Millsap, a player he got to know well as an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets.
“Paul is one of my favorite players I’ve been around,” Fernandez said. “Keegan reminds me of him.”
Several players contributed to Sacramento’s unbeaten romp through the competition at the California Classic. At times, Neemias Queta, Keon Ellis, Frankie Ferrari, Jared Rhoden and Matt Coleman III were all good, but no player on any team was better than Murray.
Fernandez described Murray as “very special” after he scored 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds in his debut against the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Murray was held to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting in Saturday’s win over the Miami Heat, but he helped in other ways with nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. He finished strong with 24 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one block in Tuesday’s victory over the Lakers, who came in unbeaten after winning their first two games by 28.5 points per game.
“I feel like I played well,” Murray said. “I feel like consistency needs to be there a little bit more, but my confidence hasn’t wavered at all. I feel like this is a good start for me and my career, and I just want to learn as much as I can going into Vegas.”
The Kings go into Sin City as the reigning Las Vegas Summer League champions. They will play their first game against the Orlando Magic on Saturday, giving Murray a marquee matchup with No. 1 draft pick Paolo Banchero.
The competition will only get tougher as Murray progresses through summer league into training camp and the 82-game grind of an NBA season, but he is embracing the challenge and learning a few things about himself along the way.
“In these three games, I kind of dipped my toe in the water a little bit to what the professional level is like,” Murray said. “I think I’ve grown more as a person through these games, and, mentally, I’ve grown. I think that’s helped me a lot and I just look forward to playing in Vegas.”