OVERVIEW: Jamal Murray was the 45th best player of his high school class, according to RSCI’s rankings last year. Murray, an Ontario native, spent part of his summer playing for the Canadian national team and he helped bring home a silver medal to his country during the 2015 Pan American Games. After that experience, and a freshman campaign at Kentucky, in which he averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists, Murray finds himself near the top of most draft boards.
STRENGTHS: Murray served as Kentucky’s go-to scorer during his lone season playing for John Calipari. His 538 shot attempts were the most in the SEC last season and the 10th most in the nation. His impressive shooting was a major reason why he was able to dominate that role. Murray shot 50.2% from the field and 40.8% from behind the arc. He was particularly effective coming off screens, shooting 56.0%, as Jonathan Givony of Draft Express details.
He dazzled teams with strong showings during workouts. During a recent workout, in which Chad Ford of ESPN.com attended, he made 25 3-pointers from various spots on the court during a two minute drill. That’s a testament to his shooting accuracy and his sneaky quick release. Don’t be surprised if he wins a 3-point contest over the course of his NBA career.
Murray has the ability to constantly get to the basket and once he’s there, he finds ways to score. He’s not the most athletic prospect, so you won’t see him posturing many defenders as he scores. Instead, he uses a variety of crafty moves to get his shot off. He possesses a nice floater and he used the backboard at Tim Duncan-like rates during his time in college.
The jury is still out on whether he can play point guard full-time in the NBA. Murray believes he can and there’s no reason he couldn’t lead a second unit at the point given his tremendous ball-handling skills. He’s drawn comparisons to Brandon Roy and C.J. McCollum and if he reaches his potential, he can be the type of player that a team can build around.
His court-vision and decision making are areas of concern and improvement in those areas will likely dictate whether or not he can develop into a starting point guard in the league over the long-term. He struggled with setting up teammates in college, netting only 2.5 assists per 40 minutes, and his 2.7 turnovers per 40 minutes should be alarming to NBA front offices. He didn’t start at point guard at Kentucky, but those figures suggest he will have issues should he be placed into that role.
Murray has some work to do on the defensive end. Even with a 6’7″ wingspan, he doesn’t project to be a lockdown defender. He’ll likely need to be paired with a strong defender in the backcourt for a team to form a winning combination at the top of the key. That’ll be an easier feat if he can develop into a starting-caliber point guard given that shooting guards typically carry more size and should have the ability to cover the opposition’s best guard.
(For Part Two of our Jamal Murray Prospect Profile, click here)