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Memphis Grizzlies 2023 NBA Draft Profiles: Kris Murray
Kris Murray fits the mold for the Memphis Grizzlies. Will he be there at the 25th pick?
Kris Murray, Forward, Iowa
Measurements: 6’8”, 7’0” wingspan
Age: 22 years old
Stats: 20.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.2 blocks. Shooting splits of 47.6/33.5/72.9 on 15.7/6.8/4.1 volume splits.
Per-36 (via Tankathon): 20.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.1 steals
Mock Draft placement: 24 - Kings (ESPN), 22 - Nets (Tankathon), 23 - Blazers (The Ringer), 23 - Blazers (No Ceilings), 29 - Pacers (NBA Big Board), 23 - Blazers (Mavs Draft), 16 - Jazz (The Athletic), 24 - Kings (The Box and One), 27 - Hornets (Bleacher Report)
The comparisons are inevitable, and let’s go ahead and put it out there: Kris Murray is not Keegan Murray — both literally, and on the floor.
Keegan Murray going to the Sacramento Kings at the 4th pick caught many people by surprise, but he likely became an integral part of the Kings’ first playoff trip since 2005. He averaged 12.6 points and shot 41.1% from 3 on 6.3 attempts per game, setting a NBA record for most made 3’s by a rookie (206).
His twin brother, Kris, is entering the NBA draft this month. While he may not have identical production of his brother, Kris Murray has the skillset to be an impactful rotation player day 1.
There will be some front offices that will be weary of his age (23 by opening night), especially in a draft loaded with young prospects with first-round grades. However, some team will bet on his skillset and find immediate value with this pick. The Memphis Grizzlies have benefitted from others’ philosophies on draft age before. Can they do so again with Kris Murray?
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Defending in space
Let’s just take a look at Kris Murray’s play-type efficiency, per Synergy Sports:
That’s what we like to call: very nice. His scoring versatility helps gauge Murray’s scalability and translation into the NBA. His usage rate will be cut in the NBA, but efficiency in multiple areas highlights his possible impact as a pro as well.
Two elements I particularly want to hit on are his efficiency as a cutter and as an iso player.
His role at the next level won’t be as a primary or secondary scoring option, but his isolation game does highlight how he could remain a factor offensively when teams try to run him off the line, or when he generates an advantage. If he’s not spotting up from 3, he’s likely going to be used as a cutter at the next level, slashing to the paint when the defense shifts. His cutting from the corner will also benefit him and his NBA squad when teams are caught sleeping on the backside of the defense.
In either capacity, he demonstrates an ability to identify and get to his spots — highlighting his basketball IQ.
Murray profiles as a solid defender, and he held offensive players to just 0.444 points per possession in isolation situations (90th percentile per Synergy Sports). His size makes him an asset defensively, but he’s a smart defender. He avoids fouls (2.1 fouls per 36 minutes), uses his body well on drives, and doesn’t bite on dribble moves. In his projected role as a 3-and-D defender, he’ll be responsible for covering multiple positions, and his prowess as a switchable defender bodes well for his defensive upside.
Murray’s effectiveness on both sides of the floor — in multiple facets — make for a high floor of a NBA role player.
Areas of Improvement
Shaky iso scoring
While Murray showed great offensive efficiency in isolation situations, its translation into the league is questionable. His drives are rather stiff, lacking much wiggle getting downhill. It usually leads to awkward footwork and finishing. Developing a ‘0.5-second’ approach — the time it should take to commit to a drive, pass, or shot — could benefit his scoring package when teams try to run him off the 3-point line.
Murray’s 3-point percentage dipped from 38.7 to 33.5% from his sophomore to junior year. At the same time, his volume doubled from 3.2 to 6.8 attempts per game. When you look at his shooting indicators, he made 72.9% of his free throws (69.9% for his collegiate career) and 37.5% (6/16) of his runners. Granted, it could be a product of his increased role last year at Iowa. He won’t be relied upon to be a go-to option at the next level. However, with his projection as a 3-and-D forward, his accuracy will determine his ceiling from a role standpoint. Inching closer to his marks from his sophomore year —flirting with 40% from 3-point range — could help him become a starter or the first forward off the bench for a good team.
Murray doesn’t project as a minus defender, as his size and footwork benefit him in that regard. However, his defensive indicators don’t really stand out — nor entirely fit the bill of past Grizzlies’ draft picks. He possessed a Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) of 0.5 and 0.044 Defensive Win Shares per 40 minutes. His defensive event creation is something to keep in mind, as his block and steal percentage dropped from his sophomore year. Was that a product of his offensive burden increasing? Regardless, his defense is a swing skill for his outlook as a 3-and-D forward.
Fit with Grizzlies
There could be some positional overlap for Kris Murray with David Roddy, Santi Aldama, Ziaire Williams, and Jake LaRavia. Though you should always want to go for the best player available, you want to give guys a proper developmental pathway. Nonetheless, Murray is a 3-and-D prospect capable of competing for rotation minutes on Day 1.
He’s also an intriguing small-ball 4 option in lineups with Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Luke Kennard, and Jaren Jackson Jr. His size at the 4, as well as his floor spacing and cutting, could be assets alongside the Grizzlies’ best offensive quartet.
Prediction: Kris Murray goes no lower than 24th to Sacramento, because the basketball gods are hilarious. In all actuality though, I believe he’s a total Warriors player and will go to them at 19.
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