David Cobb explains why Murray would be worth taking just after Banchero and Auburn’s Jabari Smith
If you took the names off the front of the jerseys, threw age out the window and discarded recruiting accolades, it would be interesting to see how perceptions around the top of the 2022 NBA Draft class would change. Keegan Murray of Iowa, who is ranked No. 8 on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board, might be the biggest benefactor in those circumstances.
Because Murray was just a three-star prospect coming out of high school, and because he’ll be 22 when the next NBA season begins, it seems like he may be getting slighted just a tad in the lead up to the NBA Draft combine, which begins next week in Chicago. To be sure, Murray’s star sophomore season for Iowa catapulted him into being a likely lottery pick in next month’s draft, which is a sign of respect for the 6-foot-8 forward.
But if Murray were coming from a blue-blood program instead of Iowa, which has not produced a first-round draft pick since Ricky Davis in 1998, it’s worth wondering if his game is fully appreciated. Another factor that could have an influence on his stock is association with Luka Garza, who was similarly productive for the Hawkeyes but did little in his rookie season as a second-round pick in 2021 to suggest he’ll become a consistent contributor in the NBA.
Ultimately, the differences in Murray and Garza couldn’t be more distinct. Murray can do everything valued in the modern NBA on both ends of the floor, and he is still willing to do the dirty work. He’s not the youngest prospect in this class, and he doesn’t come from the sexiest college program. But if you take away those external factors, there is a place in the conversation for Murray as a top-three pick, and that’s where he lands in this mock draft.