If Keegan Murray, the newest member of the Kings, turns out to be like the current NBA player to whom he’s comparing his game, the franchise might have the piece it needs to end the playoff drought — and more.
Drafted by the Kings for fourth on Thursday, Murray told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Hines before the draft he would compare his playing style to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Chris Middleton, three-time All-Star and NBA champion.
Murray, the forward from Iowa, said he – like Middleton – has a long way to go to the NBA. Middleton, the 39th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2012 draft, spent time in the G League his rookie season before being traded to the Bucks and blossoming into a superstar.
“I feel like we have the same story line,” Murray said. “He went from G League to superstar and became the NBA champion. I came from out of order to where I am now.”
In terms of playing style, Murray – who is 6-foot-8 – said he and Middleton aren’t the most athletic but have a “really smooth game”.
“He’s playing at a really good pace,” Murray said. “This is the guy I’ve been watching a lot.”
On defense, Murray believes he – like Middleton – can also switch effectively and guard “one to four”.
“Guards, big wings, men at the base, I can defend them all,” he said.
Middleton has developed into one of the top two-way players in the league, serving as a second choice to Giannis Antetokounmue. Murray said he can also “dive into the pot” on either side of the ball.
Murray averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 35 games last season — but he has emphasized his desire to be a top defensive player.
“It’s not about how much you can put the ball in the basket, but how you can defend the other team,” Murray said. “Defense is my big focus right now. I feel like I can be an all-around player.”
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The only difference between Murray and Middleton is that Middleton was a second-round pick, while Murray would immediately have high expectations as a pick among the top five of the Kings series desperately wanting to make a playoff team.
Murray’s immediate mentality may bode well for them.
“I think for me they’re going to have a winner,” he said on ABC after it was drafted. “First of all, I am very versatile. I have played the growth sport of late, so I have more room to grow in my game and am excited to achieve that.”