Why Kings pick Murray sees comparison to Bucks' Middleton


If Keegan Murray, the newest member of the Kings, turns out like the current NBA player to who he compares his game, the franchise might just have the piece it needs to end its playoff drought – and more. 

Murray, who the Kings drafted fourth overall on Thursday, told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes before the draft that he would compare his style of play to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton, a three-time All-Star and NBA champion.

Murray, a forward from Iowa, said he – like Middleton – had a long path to the NBA. Middleton, the 39th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2012 draft, spent time in the G League his rookie season before being traded to the Bucks and blossoming into a star. 

“I feel like we’ve had that same story path,” Murray said. “He went from the G League to a star and became an NBA champ. I came from being unranked to whatever I am now.”
In terms of playing style, Murray – who is 6-foot-8 – said both he and Middleton aren’t the most athletic but have a “really smooth game.”
“He just plays with really good pace,” Murray said. “That’s a guy that I’ve been watching a lot.”
On defense, Murray believes that – like Middleton – he can also switch effectively and guard “one through four.” 

“Guards, big wings, guys in the post, I can defend them all,” he said.
Middleton has developed into one of the top two-way players in the league, serving as a second option to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Murray said that he also can “dip in the pot” on both sides of the ball.
Murray averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 35 games last season – but he emphasized his desire to be a top defensive player. 
“It’s not about how much you can put the ball in the basket, but how you can defend the other team,” Murray said. “Defense is a big focus of mine right now. I feel like I can be an all-around player.”

Related: NBA draft grades: Murray pick would be better had Kings traded down

The one difference between Murray and Middleton is that Middleton was a second round pick, while Murray will have big expectations right away as a top-five pick for a Kings franchise that desperately wants to field a playoff team.

Murray’s immediate mindset may bode well for them.

“I think for me they’re getting a winner,” he said on ABC after being drafted. “First and foremost, I’m very versatile. I hit a late growth sport so I have a lot more room to grow in my game and I’m excited to get to that.”

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