116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
If you’ve read any NBA mock draft in the last several weeks, you learned nothing about how it will go. Some of this week’s headlines:
From 247Sports: NBA Mock Draft: Iowa's Keegan Murray goes No. 4 to Sacramento
From the Detroit Free Press: Why Keegan Murray is the likely pick for the Detroit Pistons in 2022 NBA draft
From SB Nation: NBA Mock Draft: Pacers select Keegan Murray
Alrighty then. What we do know is Iowa All-America forward Murray of Cedar Rapids will be at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center tonight for the 7 p.m. (CT) draft. He seems a safe bet to be called to the stage by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver before 8. Picks are made every five minutes.
Murray will be Iowa’s first lottery pick (top 14 picks) since the league’s draft lottery was established in 1985, will almost certainly be Iowa’s first top-10 pick since 1980, and could be the highest-drafted Hawkeye ever. Fred Brown went sixth in 1971.
But whither Murray? It is a consensus opinion that the top three picks will be Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, though not necessarily in that order. Then?
Many have pegged Murray going to the Sacramento Kings at No. 4. Many say he’ll be taken by the Detroit Pistons at No. 5. A smaller number of mock drafters have him going sixth, to the Indiana Pacers. I rule out nothing.
Sportsbooks who take bets on such matters give Purdue guard Jaden Ivey a nod over Murray at No. 4, and have Murray the most-likely pick at No. 5. Which also has no bearing on what actually will happen.
Here’s a look at the top three likely landing spots for Murray, with the realization a late trade could upend things:
No. 4: Sacramento Kings
It appears the Kings’ choice — should they not trade the pick — is between Murray and Ivey.
Murray flew to Sacramento last week to meet with the Kings organization. He reportedly had dinner with top Kings players De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
Though the Kings were 30-52 last season, they don’t see themselves as being far from positioning themselves for a 2023 playoff berth, and feel pressure to make that happen soon. You would too if you hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2006.
So, perhaps Sacramento likes the idea of Murray (who turns 22 in October) coming in and needing less immediate development than 20-year-old Purdue guard Jaden Ivey or, say, 19-year-old guard Shaedon Sharpe of Kentucky.
At 21 years and 10 months old, Murray would be the oldest player picked in the top 10 since at least 2005.
An interesting sidelight is whether the Kings will trade forward Harrison Barnes, the last lottery pick from the state of Iowa. Barnes, of Ames, was the No. 7 pick in 2012.
No. 5: Detroit Pistons
Detroit’s leading scorer last season was Jerami Grant, who plays the same position as Murray. Associated Press reported Wednesday night that the Pistons have an agreement to trade nine-year veteran Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Grant is 28, significantly older than Detroit’s other key players, point guard Cade Cunningham, forward Saddiq Bey and center Isaiah Stewart. The Pistons were 23-59 last season. They are doing a slow build and taking lumps now. They may be significant players in the free agent market.
Murray could wind up being part of something good developing there. Based on how he played as a rookie, 2022 No. 1 pick Cunningham certainly looks like a franchise player.
If Murray goes to Detroit, much will be made around here about him reuniting with Luka Garza, a second-round pick in 2021. The Pistons have until next Tuesday to pick up their option on Garza for the 2022-23 season.
No. 6: Indiana Pacers
Indiana tumbled down the Eastern Conference standings last season, going 25-57. Murray has been to Indianapolis to meet with the Pacers.
Indiana has a need for frontcourt talent, especially after sending Sabonis to Sacramento during last season in a trade that brought them former Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton immediately became a fan favorite in Indy. averaging 17.5 points and 9.6 assists in 26 games with the Pacers.
Draft-night trades happen, and change the fates of teams. Among current NBA stars whose rights were traded on the night of the draft are Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Trae Young.
The thing for Iowa fans and Murray himself to remember is that the team that drafts him wants him. It will have had other good options, but determined he’s their best.
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