Jamal Murray (Freshman, Kentucky)
Product of…Athlete Institute (Kitchener, ON, Canada)
20 points/game, 5.2 rebounds/game, 2.2 assists/game
UK’s Jamal Murray lived up to the hype (as a scorer) during his only season at Kentucky. A dynamic scorer with an accurate burner, there were plenty of nights where Coach John Calipari leaned on Jamal to spark the offense – like the time he torched Ohio State for 33 points w/ 7 treys – or nail a clutch shot.
A shooting guard who ran point when necessary, Murray has all of the makings of a long-range gunner – loves lifting threes off the dribble (rock up, shoot game is pretty advanced for a 19-year old), off screens and spotting up.
That’s good but we’re looking for great here. Can he actually be a lead guard? Hmm, how to fix a decently athletic combo guard with moxie and fearlessness?
Sprinkle in better decision-making.
A dash of non-layup/dunk scoring below the FT line.
A pinch of PnR playmaking.
See, Murray’s not far off from being a future star but a decision needs to be made on his position first.
NBA Skills: Shot-making, outside shooting
-CAN FILL IT UP – very good outside shooter & scorer; consistent release, can knock down triples off screens, off the dribble and via spot ups; doesn’t take much for Murray to get into an “I can’t miss” rhythm (shot 41% in college); deep range
-Puts the ball in the basket; crafty driver (nice handle) who uses screens to get into the lane for floaters and easy finishes at the rim; in-between game is ahead of the curve; goes hard at closeouts
-Confident player; rarely affected by the ebbs and flows of a game; poised in clutch situations, doesn’t shy away from big moments; frequently contributes “game-altering” plays
-Shot selection; Murray is a very polished shooter but forces up too many contested looks when he’s feeling it; settles for Js too often instead of attacking the rack
-Not a great playmaker; Murray is far from a poor passer but is not always in command of the offense or in position to create (scorer’s mentality when playing off ball); needs more experience initiating PnR sets
-Tweener status a concern?; nice size for a PG but lacks elite athleticism and foot speed; undersized two but can fill it up from deep; who does he defend in the NBA?; needs a defined role to be effective
NBA DOG Status: Star UnderDOG
Jamal Murray’s (potential) ability to play both guard spots makes him a highly coveted prospect in this year’s draft. Though he hasn’t had a ton of experience initiating offensive sets, Murray can hone his skills for a year or two while contributing as a scorer at the two in the short term (would thrive next to a penetrating PG who can create easy three-point opportunities).
Improving defense, learning how to make PnR reads and limiting bad shots are three of Murray’s goals. How quickly he’s able to adapt to NBA-level physicality will determine how fast he’ll be able to impact games. If the curve isn’t too steep, we’re looking at the best combo guard from this class.