Pure Shooter

Jamal Murray Scouting Report

(First posted RealGM)

Much like Hield, Murray’s top skill is also his outside shooting. His stats were not as jaw-dropping but his 40.8% efficiency on 277 three-point shots at a rate of 8.7 attempts per 40 minutes was also very impressive.

He displayed some of the same skills as a gunner, able to hit shots on the move – in transition, running to the ball on dribble-handoffs and coming off staggered screens out of floppy sets.

Murray isn’t as prolific rising off the bounce, though. His mechanics on catch-and-shoots are excellent; he dips for rhythm very quickly, elevates in balance and has a quick compact release. But he pulls the trigger from a relatively low point, just over his forehead, which hasn’t mattered much with people closing out to him but has made it difficult for him to get his shots off comfortably with an opponent on his hip.

And that opponent was almost always on his hip because Murray is not particularly quick attacking off the dribble, made evident by the ecosystem he was a part of at Kentucky. That team could not space the floor adequately, often playing two post men and non-shooter Isaiah Briscoe together. In that context, Murray was exposed as unable to create enough separation to pull-up from midrange effectively or get to the rim in straight isolations and out of ball reversals. According to hoop-math, attempts at the basket amounted to just 20% of his shot profile.

But in the few instances he was put in the pick-and-roll or had the aid of catching off a live dribble, Murray proved himself a viable threat to penetrate the lane. His finishing at the basket was a mixed bag, as he even flashed some explosiveness to attack the rim with power on straight-line drives and elevating out of one foot on a few occasions but didn’t look as athletic dealing with size in traffic in many others – though he did showcase a nifty floater to shoot over length from the in-between area.

As a passer out of dribble penetration, Murray is good but not great. He can recognize weak-side shooters and garbage men at the dunker spot left open by the defense collapsing against his drives. I think his thoroughly unimpressive 12% assist-rate and 0.94 assist-to-turnover ratio were mostly consequences of his role as an off-ball threat. But even when he had the opportunity to run offense for the Canadian National Team at the 2015 Pan American Games and the World Team at the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, Murray was more likely to create a shot for himself than others.

Some teams are probably flirting with the idea of having Murray play point guard for significant portions of games. That could be fine if he got to play in an environment like the one CJ McCollum enjoys in Portland (with a well-spaced floor and constantly put in the pick-and-roll or attacking closeouts) or work out very poorly if they just put him in the island and can’t open up driving lanes any better than Kentucky.

That’s as far as offense goes, at least. On the other end, having Murray defend opposing point guards should be a non-starter. He can’t get low enough to guard in a stance and lacks the lateral quickness to keep pace with the speed demons that play that position.

The problem is that Murray also doesn’t have the length (six-foot-six wingspan) to be a particularly effective defender against wings, compounded by the fact he generally doesn’t play with much energy or physicality as well. On top of it, he’s not especially adept at forcing turnovers or an above average contributor in the defensive glass.

Not only he’s unlikely to add any sort of value on defense due to his physical limitations, Murray will probably need to be actively hidden in order not to compromise the system around him at the pro level.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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