Suns Draft Profile: Jamal Murray
6’5” 201 lbs PG/SG
2015-16 Stats at Kentucky: 35.2 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
The more tape I watch on Jamal Murray, the more and more I picture him in a Suns uniform. Murray is a 6’5”, 201 pound guard that can either play PG or SG in the NBA. Murray has great range, hitting .408 of his shots from downtown during his one year in college. Oh, did I mention that college was the University of Kentucky? Need I say more? It looks like this guy is coming to Phoenix.
All sarcasm aside, Murray fits the build for the guard position in the NBA. He has a great frame, and shouldn’t have any trouble guarding some of the bigger guards that the league has to offer. At 6’5”, he has a size advantage against a good number of point guards in the league as well, and has the ability to take advantage of smaller guards, similar to what we saw Devin Booker do this season.
Murray is a knockdown shooter from outside, which is something all NBA teams love. At Kentucky, he averaged 3.1 makes on 7.7 attempts per game from behind the three-point line. Murray has a quick stroke, and doesn’t show hesitation when he has an open look at the hoop. He has a true scorer’s mentality, and does an excellent job setting himself up for shots by effectively coming off screens and moving without the ball.
Murray did a great job of scoring in transition this year. He shows great touch around the rim and does a great job of scoring after a little contact. With his size, ball handling ability, and ability to finish at the rim, Murray will probably do the most of his damage during the fast break in his rookie season.
Taking care of the ball is the most worrisome aspect of Murray’s game coming into the draft. He averaged 2.3 turnovers per game, while averaging just 2.2 assists per game. As a player looking to play some PG in the NBA, that is not a good sign. Murray seems to make some lackadaisical passes to pick up some of these turnovers, as well as working himself too far into the paint before realizing he needs to kick it out. Once he gets to the league, bigger and faster NBA defenders will eat him up unless he starts making better decisions and taking better care of the ball.
Murray shows some flashes out on the court, but his athleticism is subpar amongst NBA guards. At Kentucky, Murray had difficulties staying in front of quicker guards, and seeing him get beat off the dribble was not a rare occurrence. On the other side of the ball, his lack of an explosive first step made it hard to get by defenders on his way to the rim. Murray is no slouch though, he does show some very athletic flashes and will only improve after some time with an NBA strength and condition program.
How Does He Fit?
Shooter? Check. Guard? Check. Kentucky? Check. It seems to me like Murray would absolutely fit here in Phoenix, but is he what the Suns really need right now? The Suns already have a crowded backcourt, with Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin, and John Jenkins all under contract next season. If the Suns were to draft Murray, I would expect one of those guys to be traded to make room for him on the roster.
With Murray’s ability to score in transition and shoot the three, he would be a nice player off the bench for the Suns’ if they made room for him. A lot of his game seems pretty similiar to Booker’s, who surpassed a lot of expectations during his rookie year in the NBA, so I wouldn’t put it past him to be a solid rotation player early in his career.