Why Murray embraced Kings' playoff drought during draft process


The Kings are on pace to make their first NBA playoff appearance in 16 seasons, and rookie Keegan Murray is a big reason why.

And while Murray's peers in the 2022 NBA Draft were put off by Sacramento's current postseason drought, the 22-year-old University of Iowa product viewed it as an opportunity to contribute to a storybook season.

The Kings forward appeared on "The Climb Podcast" this week, where he told host Hunter Strait he was excited by the possibility of joining Sacramento as soon as he found out he was a projected top-five pick.

"When [my agent] told me I had a chance to be a top-five pick, I was honestly excited, but I knew I had to work on myself," Murray said, noting he worked out for four different NBA teams during the pre-draft process. "... I knew Sacramento was a place where I wanted to go, just because they had [coach] Mike Brown, they just added [general manager Monte McNair] ... so it was kind of like a refresh for this team and the city.

"Obviously a 16-year playoff drought was something that a lot of guys in the draft class I don't think were scared of, but just didn’t want to be associated with. It was something that I thought would be really cool to just try and be a guy that could be a part of that."

And be a part of it Murray did. The Kings currently boast a 37-26 record as the Western Conference's No. 3 seed, with their No. 4 overall pick averaging 11.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. And with 19 regular-season contests remaining, Murray is just 36 3-pointers shy of breaking Donovan Mitchell's NBA record for most triples made by a rookie all-time.

The sharpshooter has 151 3-pointers on the season, compared to the 187 Mitchell made for the Utah Jazz during the 2017-18 NBA season. Murray is on pace to smash that record, per Twitter account KingsMuse.

Murray's productive rookie campaign is a product of those pre-draft workouts he mentioned to Strait, where he was told he needed to work on both his perimeter defense and his jump shot. Scouts told him they weren't sure if he would be able to shoot at a high clip in the NBA unless he worked on what they deemed a slow release -- and he made the changes.

"The pre-draft was a lot of me working on myself, for sure," Murray said.

RELATED: Keegan outlines career goals for current, future seasons

That work certainly has paid off for Murray and the Kings as Sacramento looks to make some noise in the playoffs.

And while it's impossible to know how any other players still on the draft board would have fared with the Kings, it's clear the club picked the right rookie for the job.

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