Blazers’ best offseason move No. 3: Drafting Kris Murray at pick No. 23
The Blazers might have sniped the Kings in the 2023 NBA Draft. Sacramento had pick No. 24 and could’ve targeted Kris to pair with his twin brother, Keegan Murray.
Whether or not that was the case, it was a solid pick for the Blazers.
At the time, they were also in talks of trying to accumulate veterans to help them win now in an attempt to keep Lillard content. That might have factored into the Blazers’ decision to select Murray, a 22-year-old Junior, out of the University of Iowa.
Murray is coming off a Third-team All-American and First-team All-Big Ten season in which he averaged 20.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game on 48/34/73 shooting splits. Lillard reportedly didn’t want to play with rookies, but at least this is a rookie who is ready to contribute immediately.
This pick was perfect at threading the needle and maintaining flexibility – although Lillard ultimately still requested a trade, Murray is a great player to have to help catalyze the rebuilding process, too. He’s exactly what the team needs as a two-way forward, as evidenced by his 1.4 steals per game in NBA Summer League action. The Blazers needed wings, size and defense, and Murray checks all the boxes.
Murray’s other stats in his five summer league games were 10.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 43/32/57 shooting splits in 24.7 minutes per game. Admittedly, his summer league wasn’t as great as some had expected. If he wants to become a starter at the NBA level, Murray must become an above-average 3-point shooter. Shooting 32 percent from three isn’t efficient enough to keep the defenses honest, as they will sag off and clog driving lanes.
Even if Murray is only an average shooter entering his rookie season, he can impact winning. He will likely not be a home-run pick; still, Murray can be the role player every team needs. He’s a pick that fits a positional need and will help shape a young core’s identity as a two-way player.