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The Sacramento Kings’ general manager basically laughs at anyone who suggests Keegan Murray has a low NBA ceiling.
“Yeah, it’s funny,” Kings GM Monte McNair said hours after his franchise used the No. 4 pick in the league’s draft Thursday night to take Murray, the All-America forward from Iowa and Cedar Rapids.
“I won't name names because the NBA probably would not like that,” McNair said. “But I would say go back and look at some guys who people thought had low ceilings. I don't know how you would say that about a guy who led the country in points scored. Who … had the steal/block/rebound numbers that he does.
“I think Keegan in the Big Ten, the best conference in the country, being one of the most-productive players all season long against some of the toughest competition — we don't see it that way. We think Keegan has an extremely high ceiling. We think he's going to come in here and prove that to everyone.”
McNair said Murray, the highest NBA pick in Hawkeyes history, was an easy choice at No. 4.
“Ultimately,” he said, “after sitting in the room with my front office staff, our whole staff, our scouting department, our analytics department, (it) became unanimous that Keegan Murray was the best player available, and we jumped at the chance to select him.”
Murray not only led the Big Ten in scoring with 23.5 points a game, but averaged 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocked shots and 1.3 steals, and made 39.8 percent of his 3-point tries.
“Extremely well-rounded,” said McNair. “A two-way player. One of the most-prolific scorers in the country. Blocks, steals, rebounds, impacts the game in so many ways.
“Somebody who can play inside and out on offense, somebody who can guard multiple positions on the defensive end. And somebody who was one of the best players on one of the best teams all season long.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Keegan is going to have a positive impact on the team.”
McNair said Murray was “on our radar last year” even when the player was a freshman non-starter who averaged 7.2 points.
“The things he does on the court show up even in smaller samples,” McNair said. “The fact that he took it to the heights he did this year is certainly a testament to him and the program, but it’s also the things we saw the beginning of last year.
“That just gives you even more confidence, that this guy was able to compact it in a smaller role off the bench and then come in and be the go-to star they needed this year when he was given the bigger role.”
Murray will don a Kings uniform soon enough. Sacramento will play in the California Classic in San Francisco on July 2-3. It then will join the league’s 29 other teams in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, opening there with a July 9 game against the Orlando Magic and Thursday’s No. 1 pick, Paolo Banchero of Duke.
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