NBA Draft 2022 grades: Keegan Murray pick better if Kings traded down

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NBA draft grades: Murray pick would be better had Kings traded down originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO -- After four weeks of speculation, rumors and great anxiety from the fanbase since the Kings moved up in the lottery to pick fourth in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Kings made their selection Thursday night by drafting Iowa forward Keegan Murray.

Murray, a 6-foot-8 forward from Iowa, will fit in perfectly with the current construction of the Kings. He represents just about everything that the Kings entered the offseason needing most: Defense, length, rebounding and outside shooting.

In 35 games with the Hawkeyes last season, Murray averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 31.9 minutes per contest. He greatly improved his outside shot, from 29.6 percent as a freshman to a 39.8 percent clip on nearly five attempts per game in 2021-22.

It’s easy to imagine the Kings’ offense flowing through the pick-and-roll duo De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, with Murray spaced out and knocking down catch-and-shoot 3s or cutting to the basket.

Murray being a great fit with the Kings is undisputed. Taking the Iowa product with the fourth overall pick, however, is not.

In the days leading up to the draft, rumors swirled about other teams having an interest in trading up to No. 4 to select Purdue guard Jaden Ivey. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that nearly every team outside of the fourth pick reached out to Sacramento, including the Indiana Pacers (No. 6), Washington Wizards (No. 10) and New York Knicks (No. 11), amongst others.

General manager Monte McNair, working his third draft since joining the Kings' front office, opted to not take a trade and allowed Ivey slide to No. 5, where the Pistons scooped him up.

The grade? Taking Murray is a good choice for the Kings’ current roster, and he’ll immediately help the team in their yearly quest to vie for a playoff spot in a highly competitive Western Conference.

However, Murray might have been there a few picks later. If the Kings traded down, secured an asset or two and still ended up with Murray, our grade would’ve been much more friendly.

GRADE: B-