Murray takes home Rookie of the Month honors in West

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Keegan Murray is ringing in the new year on a high note.Β 

The 22-year-old Kings rookie was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in December, the NBA announced Tuesday.Β 

In December, Murray averaged 12.7 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 46.4 percent from 3-point range, to go along with 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 28.6 minutes in 14 games.Β 

The 6-foot-8 forward dropped a career-high 23 points in Sacramento’s 123-96 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 3 and then tied it nine games later against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 21.Β 

Before December, Murray went through the highs and lows of being an NBA rookie. Despite his early struggles, coach Mike Brown and his Kings teammates remained confident in the young rookie.Β 

And it paid off.Β 

Murray kept a level head and showed flashes of his potential in December, displaying a level of confidenceΒ fans hadn’t seen from him and typically don’t see from a rookie.Β 

Amazingly enough, Murray's on-court change came from the same thing he's always done, and didn't let his struggles affect his routine, even when his shots weren't falling.

"I mean, you have ups and downs in basketball, so to stay the course and keep doing what I do best, I know I'm a really good player," Murray said on "Kings Postgame Live" after the win against the Clippers. "I would say I had a struggle, but my teammates have my back, and they have full confidence in me, so I'm grateful for them."

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On top of a career night against the Lakers, Murray's efforts against LeBron James and Co. also earned him his first "Defensive Player of the Year" chain.Β 

Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month.

The Orlando Magic forward averaged 19.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists in December. Overall, the 20-year-old is averaging 20.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists this season.

While Murray, who was drafted three picks later with the No. 4 overall pick, hasn't consistently put up numbers like Banchero, Murray has been a steady addition to a Kings squad ready to snap their 16-year playoff drought.Β 

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