Celtics 2016 Draft Prospects: Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray, G: Kentucky
6’5”, 201 lbs – Age: 19
20 PPG, 2.2 APG, 45.4% FG, 40% 3pt FG
• Shooting ability
• Non-Elite athleticism
• Average size/length
• Ball skills
• Defensive upside
• Offensive versatility
Coming off what was one of the best freshman campaigns in all of basketball, we have the 6’5” combo guard out of Kentucky: Jamal Murray. A common misconception about Murray is that he won’t have a true identity in the NBA. Lots of people talk about how he lacks the appropriate size to become an effective 2 way shooting guard, while at the same time not having the quickness and ball handling skills to become an efficient point guard. Let me tell you right now, these things simply are not true.
Before committing to Kentucky, Murray was running a terrific point guard role on the Canadian National Team. As a PG, Murray has good size, decent handles, and elite scoring ability. He demonstrated these skills while playing in the Pan American Games for the Canadian National Team. His premier game came against the United States, where Murray went off for 22 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds against top-tier college talent. Until his time at Kentucky; where Murray was forced to play off ball as a shooting guard, Murray was believed to be a relatively pure PG talent.
Had Tyler Ulis not returned for his sophomore year at UK, Murray would have been the main ball handler and orchestrator of the offense. While this may have impacted his draft stock; as I feel that if Murray ran PG in college he would be the sure-fire 3 pick in this draft, it also helped him expand on his game. Although Murray struggled to find his identity at a position he wasn’t comfortable with in the beginning of the season, he really found his groove during SEC play. During conference play, Murray upped his game and posted an impressive 22.4 PPG on 47.6% shooting from the field and an outstanding 44.4% from 3 point land. Murray genuinely challenges Buddy Hield as the best pure scorer in this year’s draft class.
Concerns about Murray’s athleticism are blown out of proportion. While the quickness isn’t exactly there, Murray did post a 39.5 inch max vertical in 2015 when he was still 18 years old. Along with that; if/when Murray gets his chance to run PG, he is going to have a serious size advantage over a lot of opposing point guards. His size, strength, leaping ability, ball skills, and threat of outside scoring lead me to believe that not only will Murray be able to play PG at the NBA level, but he will excel in doing so.
The real question that comes into play for the Celtics when looking at Murray as our number 3 is how is he going to fit in our system? I don’t need to sit here and tell you that we already have too many guards. We all know this. Will the Celtics be able to clear space for Murray to get some playing time? Do we really need another combo guard? Can Murray play good enough defense to be the 2 alongside Isaiah at the 1? These are things Ainge will be thinking long and hard about.
As the Celtics desperately need a player who can score from the perimeter, I think Murray is a great option to fill that void. But drafting Murray would surely require other roster transactions to eliminate the waiting list that already exists at guard in Boston. At the end of the day; while I think Murray makes a legit case for the third best player in the draft, I would still be surprised to see him go 3 if we keep our draft pick.
Enjoy this highlight real from Murray’s Kentucky campaign and let us know where you stand on the subject of the 6’5” combo guard.