The Sacramento Kings have struck gold in the 2022 NBA Draft by selecting Keegan Murray, the MVP of Summer League.
The Sacramento Kings are a historically lousy franchise who have not made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season, where they lost in the first round. Last season, they traded away their bright young star Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers, who looked like a franchise cornerstone. In return, the Kings received former All-star center Domantas Sabonis.
Heading into the offseason, one thing was clear – the Kings desperately needed a potential star that can help the team win and have Kings fans regain hope for their franchise. Entering the 2022 NBA Draft, the Kings had the fourth overall pick, and the top four players were cemented: Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, and Jaden Ivey.
Fans did not know who the Kings would select because Ivey wanted the Pistons, but they knew who they wanted.
With the fourth overall pick, the Kings selected Keegan Murray from Iowa. Murray was an outstanding college player, but mock drafts thought he would go fifth or later. Murray is one if not the most productive player in college, averaging over 23 points and eight rebounds a game, and would fit perfectly with the Kings.
Some thought his upside was low, but that is now not in question.
The NBA Summer League is an excellent place for rookies to adjust to the speed of the NBA, and teams can show the talent they drafted and allow other players to pursue their dream of an NBA career. The humble Murray stepped onto the court against the Orlando Magic. Murray played an excellent game, scoring 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and registering one steal.
Unfortunately, Murray’s impressive outing was overshadowed by the Magic’s number one pick, Paolo Banchero, who dominated in his debut. Murray didn’t stop there; he was clearly on a mission to prove to the rest of the league that he is here to stay and wants to be considered for the Rookie of the Year award.
Keegan Murray dominated the rest of his Summer League, winning the MVP award and averaging 23.3 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The most dominant performance was against the Oklahoma City Thunder and second overall selection, Chet Holmgren. Murray was going to show the teams that passed on him that they made a mistake, and he did just that, embarrassing Chet Holmgren.
Murray dropped 29 points, seven rebounds, and four steals. We all knew Murray was a legitimate player, but he now has the league thinking he could run away with Rookie of the Year. But what makes Murray so good?
What we have seen from Murray in the Summer League does not look like a rookie. Murray has a calm presence on the floor and does everything well. He has good shooting, great rebounding, and solid defense, but his scoring ability is what’s most impressive. Murray knows when and how to shoot; his fadeaway is on point, but he can also quickly get through defenders and play off-ball offense better than most rookies.
The Sacramento Kings struck gold by selecting Murray. His fit alongside Fox and Sabonis is precisely what the Kings need in order to take the next step. Murray should excite Kings fans for this coming year as he may end up as a foundational piece for a long time, but they better hope the front office can hold on to him and continue improving their organization.