Jamal Murray, SG, Freshman, Kentucky
Weight: 207 lbs
Standing Reach: 8’1″
Max Vert: 39.5″
Freshman Year Stats & Accolades
20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 40.8 3FG%; Wooden Award — Midseason, First-team All-SEC, Third-team AP All-America, SEC All-Freshman team
Even with all the other talent surrounding him at Kentucky, Jamal Murray emerged as the Wildcats’ biggest star and shouldered a lot of the offensive load. Fortunately, this 19-year-old has all the tools needed to be a stud on the offensive end. And it starts with his outside shot. He led the SEC with 113 threes made and did so at a 41% clip, making him one of college basketball’s best shooters — to me, the only major conference player that’s a better shooter than him is Buddy Hield. Murray is very Klay Thompson-like in the sense that he can get very hot very quickly, and a majority of his threes come with him running off screens or a dribble-drive. When he’s coming off those screens, his ability to read them is phenomenal, and he does a great job creating space off them. He’s not the tallest guy on the court, but Murray has good elevation on his shot, and it’s quick enough to where he doesn’t get blocked too often.
Before his stint in Lexington, Murray was praised on his point guard ability but was thrown into his scoring role because of Tyler Ulis. The numbers don’t show it, as he averaged just 2.2 assists per game, but Murray can be crafty off the dribble and can get to the basket off the bounce, usually finishing with superb body control and a wide variety of impressive moves.
He’s also very good at finding teammates around the basket — specifically via the lob pass. The play below shows his willingness to pass, as he could’ve easily pulled for a mid-range jump shot or floater.
Although I just finished saying that Murray is a willing and able passer, his decision-making is questionable sometimes. He amassed more turnovers than assists this year, something that would severely hinder his draft stock if he weren’t so effective in other areas. The bright side is that his per game average was 2.3 turnovers per game, which isn’t high for someone who plays 35-38 minutes a game and has a usage rate of 27%. Another thing to add is that Murray was prone to dribbling too much and getting fancy with the ball at times. It’s not as prevalent anymore, thanks to Coach Calipari reaming him for it.
Another area of concern is going to be on the defensive end if he’s to match up against NBA shooting guards. All of the league’s best shooting guards are 6’5 or taller, and Murray’s lack of height and length will be exploited by guys like James Harden and Klay Thompson. Where Murray can offset that is with his effort and the incredibly high motor he plays with.
At just 19, Murray is already a proven scorer from both inside and out. As he matures, he’ll get even more athletic, and the questions surrounding his decision making will vanish after he gets into the flow of an NBA season; having the ability to play both guard spots also helps him greatly, and he’d be a steal if he fell out of the top-7 spots.
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