Basketball player

Iowa basketball player review: Keegan Murray

Player Debrief will be my look at every player on the Iowa roster, what they’ve done this season, things to look out for next year, and my general observations from a couch in Denver.

Literally, no one saw this coming.

After a better-than-expected freshman year, Keegan Murray was getting some quiet NBA buzz at the start of the year – good length, good (but not big) athlete but still good enough, plus enough height to play multiple positions, good defensive player. The big question was, can he become the focal point for a team that is bubble-adjacent at the start of the year and desperately needs its goalscoring output to make a leap?

Um yes. The answer is yes to all of this.

Simply put, Keegan Murray went from a low-key NBA guy to an NBA lottery guy in the space of 5 months. And what an incredible 5 months it has been. His 2021-22 season will go down as the gold standard in Iowa basketball history, and that’s AFTER we had what we thought was Luka Garza’s back-to-back gold standard. . That’s how exceptional this season was from Keegan.

Here are Luka’s numbers. Averages and totals for the season:

Here are Keegan’s numbers. Average and totals:

The numbers are crazy. 822 points in a season (that’s seventh all-time in Big Ten history for a single season). He’s one of two players to have 800 points, 60+ 3s and 60+ steals in a season – the other being Kevin Freaking Durant. In the Big Ten, he was first in points per game, first in points scored (also first in the NCAA), first in field goals (also first in the NCAA), third in rebounds per game, third in total rebounds, ninth in steals and fourth in blocks. Then his stats go beyond your traditional stats. He was an advanced analytics supernova, leading the nation in win shares (deep breath), offensive win shares, win shares per 40 minutes, plus/minus box, offensive plus/minus box and the PER. That PER number is still the best of anyone in college basketball since 2009-10 without the name Zion Williamson. It’s just been a monster season by any measure (but it wasn’t good enough to win Big Ten Player of the Year; it’s going to age like milk in the sun).

I mean, just look at this guy.

I think I will always remember two things about Murray this season. One is game specific, the other Big Ten Tournament semi-final against Indiana. Iowa is again in the second weekend, in a position to display its All-American forward in a high profile game with Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Keegan did not disappoint. As I noted in my Top 10, Iowa didn’t play particularly well against Indiana. It was probably a B-/C+ game, but Keegan got them into a position to win. He goes from 8 to 10 out of 3 in an absolutely scorching performance. Here is the tweet of this game that I included in my Top 10.

The other is wide. Both Keegan and his brother, Kris, are left-handed, but Kenyon Murray taught them to shoot right so they could also come back left. Keegan stayed with the right, while Kris stayed with his left as the dominant shooting hand. With Keegan, the two-handed ability has stood out all year, as has his ability to finish over, through and around any contact. He liked to drive, with one hand, then turn into the lane and finish with the other. And even when teams started sending him doubles to slow that movement, he was still able to finish. Seriously, his finishing has been absurd all season. He made 62.1% of his 2-point field goal attempts. The number isn’t on Basketball-Reference’s list of 2-point field goal percentage leaders, but most of the guys on that list are centers or play in small schools (Lonzo Ball skipped me off the page for some reason 73.15 percent for a guard dominating the ball is unbelievable I also raise the ball to say good job CENSORING having 5 NBA players in this 2016-17 UCLA team, averaging 90 points per game and… finishing 3rd in the Pac-12 and losing in the Sweet 16). It was pretty darn automatic around the rim and the numbers back it up.

What to look for next year

Nothing, at least as far as Iowa is concerned. Now he can ply his trade in the National Basketball Association. If Keegan is a top 10, he will be Iowa’s first top 10 since Ronnie Lester in 1980. He will undoubtedly be Iowa’s first player selected in the first round since Ricky Davis in 1998. That’s an accomplishment amazing for Keegan and it’s fantastic for the health of the program having a guy go as high as Keegan is likely to go.

I took a quick look at NBA games when Keegan said and I stand by that. The updated drafts I’ve seen have Murray at 6 in Portland (NBA Draft Net; eek), 5 in Orlando (The ring, although this simulation was written as a kind of panic simulation, “What if the lottery order is nonsense”, then they wrote another simulation which was chaos, “what if San Antonio gets first pick?” wrong draft; in this case, Keegan ended up with Detroit at 7), then a slew of mockery at Indiana at 5 (NBC Sports, Sports Newsand Athletics).

I love the Indiana cut. Looking at this further, I probably had them in the wrong group. If they can get healthy, they’re in for a playoff push and not losing a ton of games right away. Indiana is the closest of these competing teams. They’ve been injury-ridden all season – got 36 games from Malcolm Brogdon, 55 games from Chris Duarte, traded mid-season for Ricky Rubio after tearing his ACL with the Cavs so he played 0 games, TJ Warren played in 0 games, and Myles Turner missed the end of the season and only played 42 games. I saw them play at Golden State in January and they had about 8 guys in street clothes for that game. I don’t remember seeing an injury situation where everyone in the top 6 or 7 except Duarte didn’t play and was in street clothes. They have Tyrese Halliburton, the injured above, all back… there’s a lot to love. The idea of ​​Keegan as a stretch 4 next to Turner is appealing.