Target #6: Jamal Murray
Feb 13, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Jamal Murray (23) against South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena. Kentucky wins 89-62 over South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re a GM who’s focused on having the best team possible in 2020, Murray is probably the 4th best option in this draft after Simmons, Ingram, and Bender.
Since Demps is far more concerned with short-term success, Murray isn’t likely to be picked unless Buddy and Dunn are both off the table when it comes time for him to make his selection.
Murray took the NCAA but storm this season when he put up a remarkable 20.0 points per game as a freshman coming straight out of high school. In addition to scoring with volume, he maintained consistent efficiency shooting 50% from two and 40% from three.
His primary issues are his passing and his defense, which are two areas the Pelicans cannot afford to sacrifice.
He was blown past by more athletic guards and lost his man frequently due to some ugly ball-watching habits. Murray is athletically limited and it shows against college athletes. How much worse will that disadvantage be against NBA players in their athletic primes?
His passing might be even more alarming. He averaged just 2.2 assists a game this season and doesn’t have the speed or agility to consistently handle the ball or make plays.
Buddy Hield is equally limited as a passer/creator, but his shooting and defense are both so much better that you don’t mind placing him in a limited role. Murray on the other hand is a very solid shooter, but that might be the only thing he ever does at even an average level once he enters the NBA.
Murray is younger than Hield and Dunn, but is his ceiling really much higher? He’s a good shooter, but he won’t ever rival Curry or Thompson like Hield could. He’s an average finisher, but will he be able to drive past NBA athletes once his lack of agility becomes clear?
Even with his clear concerns, 20 points on 50-40-78 shooting as a freshman is enough to at least make him the clear worst case scenario pick for the Pelicans.
If everyone else is gone and Murray is left at six, expect him to be picked and then prompted traded away for an older player who can contribute immediately………