Jamal Murray draft preview: ‘I believe I can score on anybody’

Kentucky guard Jamal Murray (23) shot his “arrow” after making a three-pointer during the second half against Stony Brook during the first round of the NCAA Tournament in in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 17.
Kentucky guard Jamal Murray (23) shot his “arrow” after making a three-pointer during the second half against Stony Brook during the first round of the NCAA Tournament in in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 17. cbertram@herald-leader.com

About Murray

The 6-foot-4 guard from Kitchener, Canada, averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his lone season at UK. … He was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press, and a second-team All-American by USA Today and Scout. … He also made the All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Freshman Team. … Only Stephen Curry (122) made more three-pointers as a freshman than Murray’s 113 last season at Kentucky. … Murray’s most impressive play might have come before he arrived in Lexington, as he scored 22 points — all in the fourth quarter and overtime — in leading the Canadians past the U.S. last summer in the semifinals of the Pan Am Games. … He was the first player in the John Calipari era to score 700 or more points in a single season, and only Cotton Nash, who reached 700 points in 30 games in 1961-62, did it faster at UK.

What analysts are saying

Chad Ford, ESPN: “Murray will go three to seven. He’s got a pretty narrow range right now. He’s in the mix literally with every single one of those teams with maybe the exception of the Suns. The Celtics are looking at him at three, Wolves are looking at him at five, Pelicans like him at six. Denver even likes him at seven as a nice backcourt mate to Emmanuel Mudiay. … I think it’s going to come down more to team need than it is necessarily on ranking talent. I think as far as talent goes, Murray has the ability to be the best perimeter scorer in this draft. I think that he’s going to be a 20-point per game scorer in the NBA and one of the best shooters in this draft. Defensively, I think the concerns are there.”

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: “The latest installment of the recent Canadian influx into the NBA is the 2016 version of D’Angelo Russell, lacking great athleticism while projecting as a versatile guard with good size and natural instincts as a passer but also the scoring ability to play off the ball. Murray is more shooting guard than point guard, although there is some belief he could handle a starting role as the primary distributor. He shot 40.8 behind the arc as part of a big second half that included 11 consecutive games with at least 20 points. His work as a ball handler needs to get much better, though — Murray had more turnovers (84) than assists (79).”

Paul Coro, The Arizona Republic: “The Celtics’ 28th-ranked three-point shooting could be bolstered by Murray, the latest Kentucky one-and-done sensation. Boston also could be in an advantageous position to trade. … Murray is a combo guard who proved to be a versatile, clutch shooter with a high grade of character and work ethic.”

What Murray is saying

ESPN (June 8): “As a child, I was competitive in whatever it was — first one to eat your wings, first one to run to the door. In everything we were competitive. I always wanted to have the edge. My dad taught me a lot of meditative techniques. I used that to my advantage. … I believe I’m the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need.”

Boston.com (June 8): “I have the mind of a 1 in a 2-guard’s body,” Murray said. “I believe I can score on anybody. In college, I got better at playing the 2, kind of got a feel for it coming off screens, found my rhythm. Before that I was a natural point guard. I’m a big guard, whether a 1 or 2.”

Timberwolves? Sixers? 'Any team I go to is a blessing'

Players Tribune (May 16): “Basketball is my first love. I grew up in Kitchener, Ont., a small town about an hour’s drive from Toronto. … And of course, hockey is big there. It’s Canada. I could never really skate, but I used to offer to play

Timberwolves? Sixers? 'Any team I go to is a blessing'

goalie when we played hockey in school. (I was pretty good.) But for me, it was always basketball that called my name.”

What Coach Cal is saying

“I believe that Jamal Murray will be the leading-scoring rookie in the NBA. That’s what I believe. … His release is kind of similar to Steph (Curry). It’s not a high release like Devin (Booker), it’s more quick. Finishes around the goal, can score multiple ways. I’m sold on him, but see, I coached him and I’m sold on him as a kid. Kid wants to win. … Defensively, he improved 1,000 percent in the year.”


'He completely changed the way people see me'

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NBA.com Consensus



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