Keegan Murray NBA Draft Odds & Outlook: Is the Iowa Forward Worthy of a Top-5 Pick?
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Keegan Murray.
Keegan Murray NBA Draft Profile
The 2022 NBA Draft is just around the corner, so it’s time to dig into this year’s top prospects and look for betting value.
Today, we’re scouting Iowa combo forward Keegan Murray, a smooth and versatile scorer. Murray is the favorite to be selected No. 5 at -120 at DraftKings (as of June 14th) and is such a surefire top-10 selection that he doesn’t even have odds posted.
Let’s dig into Keegan Murray, and don’t forget to check out our draft profiles for other likely top-10 prospects:
- F Jabari Smith, Auburn
- F/C Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
- F Paolo Banchero, Duke
- G Jaden Ivey, Purdue
- F A.J. Griffin, Duke
- G/F Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
Most Ready-Made Scorer in the 2022 Draft?
Murray stands six-foot-eight, and he’s a natural and gifted scorer. He led the NCAA in scoring and finished fourth in points per game at 23.5. He was incredibly efficient, hitting 62% of his 2s and making 40% of his 3s on 4.7 attempts per game. Murray also added 8.7 rebounds per game.
Keegan Murray is an advanced metrics darling, near the top of any catch-all metric. He led the nation in Win Shares, PER, and BPM. He had the top Offensive Rating in the NCAA at 134.6 and finished the year with a 61% Effective Field Goal percentage and 64% True Shooting.
Murray is a polished scoring machine. He turns 22 in August and looks ready to make an immediate NBA impact, perhaps as much as any player in the draft.
A Versatile and Gifted Scorer
Murray’s scoring is the story. He’s a smooth operator, scoring early and often, both throughout the game and in bunches. Murray scored within the flow of the offense but also showed an ability to take the game over.
The scoring versatility stands out. Murray can score out of the post. He gets out in transition. He can face up, shoot over the opponent, or back him down.
Murray’s size gave him an advantage against most college defenders. Big men weren’t quick enough to keep up, and he scored over smaller defenders. Murray uses his size well in the post. He’s also a lethal scorer off the ball, with outstanding movement and cutting that constantly puts him in good position for efficient scoring opportunities.
This year, Murray was “the guy” for Iowa and took on a huge load, but he was just as efficient last season when Luka Garza was the offensive focal point. That ability to scale down and score off ball within the flow of the offense bodes well for his projection at the next level.
High Level Shot Making
Murray’s game is smooth and easy on the eyes. His movement is fluid, and his shot making is high level. Against inferior opponents like Nebraska, it genuinely felt like Murray could score anytime he wanted to with a wide array of moves.
Murray has an ability to get to his spot and find his shot. His 39.8% 3-point shooting on 166 attempts this year speaks for itself, and he made 74.9% of his 243 career free throws. That’s a good number, but not a great one, and it’s perhaps a bit concerning that Murray made under 30% of his 3s a year ago.
Still, the shot making is undeniable. You know what you’re getting in Murray.
Doesn’t Stand Out Athletically
Murray isn’t a bad athlete, but he won’t stand out in the NBA. Though he dominated inferior competition, he also struggled to assert himself against stronger and quicker defenders like Michigan’s Moussa Diabate.
Murray doesn’t have great athletic pop. He’s not a built to finish over or through most NBA opponents, and his burst and playing speed don’t stand out. His sub-seven-foot wingspan and limited athletic profile leave him lacking on the defensive end, despite good intelligence and stock numbers.
Two decades ago, Murray’s style of play at his size and relatively tame athletic ability would have labeled him as a tweener. In today’s league, they might make him versatile and multi-positional, perhaps best as a small ball four — but they could also mean he’s more of a college scorer who might not translate fully.
Lacks Obvious Upside
What you see with Keegan Murray is probably what you get. That can be both good and bad.
Though a sophomore, Murray will turn 22 in August. He’s older than guys like Tyrese Maxey, James Wiseman, and Jaden McDaniels, all of whom have played two full NBA seasons. He’s older than Sekou Doumbouya, who’s already played in the NBA long enough to be considered a bust.
The good part about Murray’s age is that his game is already well developed. More than most atop of the draft, he’s ready to make an immediate impact. But the age and relatively tepid athletic profile may also put a cap on Murray’s upside and growth curve.
Teams drafting Murray can’t just consider whether he’s better than Shaedon Sharpe, A.J. Griffin, and others right now — they need to think about whether he’s better already than those guys will be two or three years from now, when they’re as old and developed as he is right now.
Overall Draft Outlook and NBA Projection
It’s impossible to watch Keegan Murray play and not see shades of Tobias Harris. That’s the sort of efficient, versatile, combo forward scorer Murray will hope to be at the next level. Danny Granger and T.J. Warren also come to mind. Murray could be a 20 PPG scorer.
These are useful NBA players any team would like to have, fringe All Stars at their peak. But they’re also players with obvious limitations, capped out as high-volume lead scorers on subpar teams. All three of those guys were drafted mid-to-late in the first round, not top-five.
Marvin Williams and Rudy Gay are other possible comps. They were both taken in the top-eight, but they were also younger and more explosive athletically.
These might not sound like the most exciting draft outcomes, but these are good outcomes for a combo forward. Any team that gets a decade-long player who peaks at 15-or-20 PPG will be happy with its draft pick.
How to Bet Keegan Murray’s Draft Position
Murray is the favorite to be selected fifth overall at -120 at DraftKings. His posted over/under is currently set at 5.5. I’m taking the over at +130.
Murray just does not fit the typical profile of a top-five draft pick. His age and lack of high-end athleticism and potential outcomes simply do not fit historically with the type of player selected that high in the draft.
Last year’s top five was populated exclusively by college freshmen and so was 2020. Two sophomores (Ja Morant and De’Andre Hunter) were taken top-five in 2019. Only one other non-freshman college prospect was taken top-five in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, or 2014.
That’s just three times in the past eight drafts that a college prospect went in the top five despite not being a freshman. Murray would be the second oldest top-five pick since 2014. The only older pick was Kris Dunn at No. 5 in 2016, and he was just a few months older than Murray, despite being a junior. Keegan Murray would be the second oldest top-five selection in the past 45 such picks.
Every major mock draft — ESPN, The Athletic, Yahoo, Bleacher Report, and more — has Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey in the first five picks. Not a single exception. That leaves a single spot left for Murray in the top-5, an incredibly narrow path to hit his under.
I don’t see it. He has virtually no chance of going in the top three. That leaves either the Kings at No. 4 or Pistons at No. 5, both with similar stylistic players (Harrison Barnes and Jerami Grant) in Murray’s way. Sacramento is a rumored trade destination for teams moving up, and one of those teams likely takes Ivey.
I’m playing Over 5.5 on Keegan Murray at +130.
I also like Jaden Ivey at -275 at PointsBet to be the first Big 10 prospect taken, with Murray +200 as the only real competition. I projected Murray to the Wizards at No. 10 in my lottery night mock draft. It would be a surprise if he fell that far at this point, but I’ll bet against him going in the top five.