The Sacramento Kings are having themselves a dream season, which comes as a result of some very good front-office decisions. It started with trading Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis, who could very well end up as a top-five MVP finisher.
Giving up Haliburton was not a move many teams would have made, but with De'Aaron Fox in place, the Kings knew what they needed more than another point guard was a bruising big man who could facilitate offense.
The Kings also knew they needed shooting to properly space an offensive attack built around the blazing penetration of Fox and the low-post scoring/high-post passing of Sabonis. So last summer they went out and got two marksmen in Kevin Huerter and Keegan Murray. (Malik Monk has also been a huge addition, but he's more of a pure scorer than a true marksman.)
Huerter, who has been spectacular this season, came in a trade from Atlanta. Murray came by way of the No. 4 pick in the draft. The Kings could've gone a lot of ways with that selection, and what a pivotal decision it has turned out to be that in the end they went with Murray, who on Wednesday night broke the NBA record for most 3-pointers in a season by a rookie with his 188th triple of his debut campaign.
Keegan Murray breaks the rookie record for threes (188) 🙌 pic.twitter.com/I8JVTLRkqQ— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 30, 2023
Murray surpassed Donovan Mitchell's previous rookie record of 187 3-pointers. Damian Lillard is third all-time with 185. Those guys are superstars. Murray is not, and he was never really projected to be. Yes, it's hard to call a No. 4 overall pick a sleeper, but Murray, at least at the time, was seen more as a choice of practicality than potential.
Once you got outside the top three, Ivey or Sharpe were seen as the guys with the most star upside. But Murray was a player. A lights-out shooter and long-armed defender. For the same reason that Haliburton was traded, Murray made the most sense for the Kings. Ivey, who also made it clear he didn't want to go to Sacramento, was another Fox. Murray, on paper, could be the Klay Thompson wingman.
Draft picks don't usually play out exactly as you imagine them, but this one has in Sacramento. Not only has Murray drained more 3s than any rookie in history, but he's done so with a historic level of efficiency.
𝗞𝟯𝟯𝗚 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗡𝗗𝗦 𝗔𝗟𝗢𝗡𝗘 👑— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 30, 2023
Keegan Murray now holds the NBA all-time single-season 3-point record for rookies and has done it with the highest percentage (40.7%) ever for a first-year player with 400+ attempts. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/tk8bmEI1Wp
Murray is not a top option for Sacramento. You might call him a fourth option, maybe even fifth, and yet he has managed to pile up 3-pointers at an unprecedented rookie rate. That is a player who just fits, a guy who knows how to move and make himself available and is ready to fire with confidence when called upon. The Kings are not the best offense in the league without Murray.
And he's not just a standstill shooter, not by a long shot. He can create for himself. Separate. Put the ball on the floor. And, again, he can defend with size. This isn't a Tyler Herro situation, where a rookie comes in and can obviously shoot the ball but has to be covered for on defense. Murray pulls his weight on both ends.
Oh, by the way, the Kings clinched their first playoff berth since 2006, ending the league's longest current postseason drought, with a win over Portland on Wednesday. Drafting Murray was a integral part of that happening.