Why the Portland Trail Blazers could pass on Keegan Murray
For the Iowa Hawkeyes, a lot of Keegan Murray’s numbers come from bullying much weaker opponents in the low-post. That advantage won’t be there in the NBA. Even the weakest starting power forward can more than handle a 6’8, 225-lb opponent on the block, especially one with primitive post moves.
Taking a look at his game logs from this year, there’s a direct correlation between Murray’s production and his level of competition.
Against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he put up 37 points on 15-21 shooting. He poured in 35 against the Utah State Aggies. He had games with 35 and 30 facing the Maryland Terrapins.
In contrast, he had just nine points against the Iowa State Cyclones, 12 against the Indiana Hoosiers, and 13 against Rutgers.
He’s really only had one eye-popping performance against a top-tier basketball program when he dropped 27 points on the Wisconsin Badgers.
Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery recognizes that the Hawkeyes will only go as far as Murray takes them, and as a result, funnels nearly all of their offense through his second-year star. As the season progresses and Murray gets more matchups against NBA-level talent, it’ll be crucial that he can replicate his early-season production against more balanced competition.
While Murray projects to contribute right away in the NBA, he’s likely close to his ceiling. As he’s probably a finished product as an athlete, the only avenues for major development are within his handle and in-between game on offense.
Still, his elite production in the role player aspects of the game —such as help defense, secondary scoring, and spot-up shooting — makes him a perfect fit for the Portland Trail Blazers. His low ceiling, though, dub him a better target for their lower draft selection than their first.