Kings rookie Keegan Murray puts on a show on his Summer League debut with 26 points

The Sacramento Kings faced a conundrum ahead of the 2022 NBA draft. Purdue guard Jaden Ivey was widely considered the fourth-best candidate, but he wasn’t particularly keen on going to Sacramento, and with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell already on the list, they didn’t want to take another minor guard.

Some thought they should just pick Ivey anyway and find out, while others thought a trade was the best way to go. In fact, there was a flurry of trade rumors in the days and hours leading up to the selection. But in the end, the kings decided to keep it, defying consensus again.

With the #4 overall pick, they selected Keegan Murray of the University of Iowa. The 6-foot-8 forward was a great collegiate player and there is little doubt he can be an effective player in the league. Whether he will be good enough to justify such a high selection remains to be seen.

Early signs are extremely positive for what they’re worth. Murray made his Kings debut Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors in the California Classic – one of the Summer League’s mini-tournaments ahead of the main event in Las Vegas later this month.

Murray was by far the best player on floor as he ended the Kings’ comfortable 86-68 win with 26 points and eight rebounds on 10-of-14 from field and 4-of-5 from 3-point land. That was good for a staggering 1,733 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports.

“I knew if I had the ball in my hands there was a good chance we could score a goal or play for someone else.” said Murray after the game. “I just always wanted to be the attacker.”

He made some powerful moves to the basket, bullying smaller defenders, but outside shooting was the most impressive aspect of his performance. In college, he went from 29.6 percent of 3-point country as a freshman to 39.8 percent as a sophomore. That jump was a big part of his success in Iowa and climbing the draft boards, and he needs to show that the improvement was real. So far, so good.

A game in the Summer League obviously only means so much, but it’s still a huge advantage that Murray has gotten off to a hot start – especially considering he was a somewhat controversial choice.