With regards to the 2022 NBA Draft, the overall consensus is three specific players are projected to go inside the top three picks in June: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.
But ESPN’s draft experts think there are 4 outsiders who could wind up having higher long-term careers than the trio.
One player that caught draft experts’ eyes: Iowa basketball forward Keegan Murray.
Mike Schmitz, an ESPN NBA Draft analyst who just accepted an assistant general manager position with the Portland Trailblazers, raved about Murray’s skillset and fit at the following level in an ESPN+ article.
Schmitz wrote that Murray plays “one of the vital coveted positions within the NBA,” praising his ability to play as a “jumbo small forward, modern 4, and small-ball 5.”
“(He’s) essentially the most NBA-ready prospect within the draft,” Schmitz wrote.
How does Keegan Murray compare to top players within the 2022 NBA Draft?
“When comparing him to Banchero, Murray is a better fit alongside other ball-dominant players as he’s able to playing for 30-plus while not having many dribbles, in addition to playing an off-ball role successfully like he did early in his Iowa profession,” Schmitz wrote.
While he would not put him ahead of Smith Jr., Schmitz thinks the gap between the 2 players is not as vast as one may presume.
“You can make the argument that (Murray) is sort of as versatile of a shooter (as Smith Jr.) while impacting the sport in a couple of more areas given his ability to place pressure on the rim, rebound and make plays off the ball defensively.”
A Tyrese Haliburton comparison?
Schmitz eyeballed former Iowa State star and current Indiana Pacer Tyrese Haliburton as a current NBA comparison.
“Murray jogs my memory in some ways of a forward version of Tyrese Haliburton,” Schmitz wrote in his evaluation. “Some will query his NBA upside because he doesn’t have the form of game that pops in a mixtape, but he has incredible touch, stellar all-around instincts and the form of basketball nervous system that lends itself to success.”
Most closely fits for Keegan Murray within the 2022 NBA Draft
Based on Schmitz, Murray “makes numerous sense” for the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazers — the teams drafting with picks 4, five, six and 7 in June.
“Due to his off-ball impact and talent to attain without much volume, Murray can fit virtually anywhere,” Schmitz wrote.
Schmitz pointed to Murray fitting well on the Kings and Pacers, two teams with current or upcoming free agency decisions to make at forward. He also wrote that Murray could fit seamlessly in Portland alongside guards Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.
Keegan Murray broke down film with Mike Schmitz earlier this week
On Monday, the NBA on ESPN released a 28-minute video of Murray analyzing his film with Schmitz. Watch the complete interview below: