fbpx

Keeping faith in Keegan Murray now and tomorrow

Mike Brown's belief in Keegan Murray could have long lasting dividends.
By | 20 Comments | Apr 24, 2023

Jan 28, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Sacramento Kings Mike Brown talks with forward Keegan Murray (13) against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Brown has been a revelation in many ways this season, but how he has helped build Keegan Murray’s career foundation is central to everything that feels good about this budding era.

Brown put faith in a rookie Murray from the beginning of the season despite the fact that the rest of the starting lineup was largely young (with the exception of Harrison Barnes) and considering that Brown is reputed to be a defense-first coach. Rookies don’t usually play good defense, and with Domantas Sabonis and Barnes at the bigs, you could see other coaches taking someone like KZ Okpala there, or keeping Murray on the bench in a lower pressure setting by starting a traditional center next to Sabonis.

Brown had faith in Murray from the start, even when it was quite far from certain that the Kings would be one of the more surprising, positive stories of the NBA season. Murray had some great stretches and some shaky stretches. Brown didn’t waver. Murray started the fourth game of the season. He started every game he played thereafter.

There was a stretch where he scored 9 points in three games on the road. He kept starting. A 3-game stretch with 7 points on 2/21 shooting. He kept starting. Brown kept demanding more: that he handle the ball instead of passing immediately, that he defend better despite his youth, that he shoot when he was open regardless of whether he missed or made the last three shots. Brown demanded a ton of Murray all season, and rewarded his work and willingness with faith.

And so when Murray started the playoffs with 10 points over three games on 3/13 shooting, it wasn’t a surprise that Brown stuck with him. This is what Brown had done all year. Some outside the fandom called for Brown to replace Murray with Malik Monk to juice the offense and get Sacramento’s best players on the court. Brown maintained his faith in Murray, and it paid off in Game 4.

Here’s the deal: it’s not just paying off now. This is the foundation of Murray’s NBA career. This is going to pay off in the Kings’ next playoff run and all those yet to come. To let Murray work through his slump as he did all year, Brown is ensuring that Murray knows how to get through it the next time it happens. Everyone always says that playoff basketball is different, that you don’t know what it’s like until you experience it. Brown is ensuring that Murray knows what it’s like because there are going to be a lot more playoff series in Murray’s future with the Kings.

Keeping faith in Keegan Murray gives Brown and the Kings their best chance to beat the Warriors and advance through the Western Conference. It also gives the Kings their best chance to continue to be excellent in the coming years. The rewards started in Game 4, but it’s about much more than that.
There’s a corollary here with Davion Mitchell, of course. Brown kept him in the rotation all year despite the arrival of Monk and Kevin Huerter, who took places above him in the backcourt pecking order. Monk has sometimes been the de facto point guard with De’Aaron Fox off the floor, but Mitchell’s offense has nonetheless grown – both in running the actual offense and in creating for himself. That faith Brown has shown in Mitchell’s development has paid dividends in this series, too. Off Night has played nearly as many minutes as Huerter and Monk, and has had some huge buckets in between trying to chase Steph Curry all over creation.

One particularly relevant moment was in the fourth quarter after Curry shook Fox to get open for a three. Brown immediately put Mitchell in the game. For a player as young as Mitchell, that’s a heady assignment. Brown believes in him, and it’s paying off. As with Murray, that’s important now and in the future.

This is how you build lasting teams: you put your young players in positions to succeed, and you keep faith in them when they fail. It speaks extremely well to Brown’s leadership and it promises good things beyond this series and this playoff run for the Kings.

Patreon Membership
* indicates required


To prevent spam, our system flags comments that include too many hyperlinks. If you would like to share a comment with multiple links, make sure you email [email protected] for it to be approved.

20 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
DutchKingsFanInUK
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
April 24, 2023 9:59 am

Wonderful piece Tom, and I couldn’t agree more. I love the way Brown has handled Murray, but also how Murray has responded over the season.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Kings rookie improve from game to game as much as Murray. That’s not only a testament to the rook, but also to how the coaching staff has dealt with him. They didn’t give him a free pass, but coached him, taught him, and gave him the opportunity to show the world his game. It has been a wonderful season for Murray.

NinjaFetus
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
April 24, 2023 11:05 am

I would love Keegan to have a trajectory like Kevin Martin did in the first few years. Develop a deadly mid range but also feast on getting to the free throw line. Otherwise, to this point agree with the above. Great first season.

Adamsite
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 14
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Nostradumbass 14
April 24, 2023 11:55 am
Reply to  NinjaFetus

My hope is Danny Granger 2.0, sans the injuries.

BigDrewbot
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
April 24, 2023 10:34 am

can you imagine if Murray had been drafted when Luke Walton was coach? We’d be wailing about another wasted draft pick. Almost makes one wonder if Bagley might have been at least modestly serviceable if Brown had been running the team back then.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
April 24, 2023 10:38 am
Reply to  BigDrewbot

A good point, Bagley was pretty decent his rookie year under Joerger. He may not have ever lived up to being the second pick, but if he’d been able to stay healthy and properly coached, Marv could have been a starter in the league.

BuffaloDiaspora
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
April 24, 2023 10:44 am
Reply to  andy_sims

They also seem to like him well enough in Detroit, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I don’t know if he’ll ever be a starter on a non-tanking team, but Marv can do some basketball stuff. He just needs a coach that keeps him in his lane and better injury luck.

RobHessing
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
April 24, 2023 10:49 am

Five years in, his longest game streak is still only 22 games. He has missed almost 47% of his games. His pro-rated games average per season would come out to roughly 44.

In Sacramento, it’s all about not being Luka Doncic. Everywhere else, it’s all about the injuries.

Amonk81
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
April 24, 2023 11:45 am

Marv is what he came in as, a bench big. Don’t think it would matter much who coached him as I don’t think he’s starter material. Bad defensively and can’t shoot to name a couple things.

But Brown surely woulda gotten the most.

Love Keegs stepping up. Mitchell too. Showing they play as well or better under pressure. Kings need 1 more guy like that.

I can’t say the same about Heurter or Sabonis, yet.

DutchKingsFanInUK
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
April 24, 2023 10:41 am
Reply to  BigDrewbot

I’ve always believed that Bagley showed a lot of potential under Joerger. A good coach hides players weaknesses and emphasises its strengths. Joerger did that with Bagley, Giles, and Fox. The reverse is also true: a player’s skills aren’t maximised with a terrible coach. Walton definitely was one of those.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
April 24, 2023 10:36 am

It was great seeing Keegs break out in Sunday’s game. If Huerter and Sabonis could just play to their season averages, I don’t see how Olden State can take the series.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown, you sons-of-bitches) are both just scratching the surface, and it’s been great to see how much Mitchell’s shooting has improved in the last couple of months. He can get his midrange whenever he wants it, and he’s been very efficient there. His three-point shot has been looking beautiful, and I’m sure Brown has been encouraging DM to take shots when he’s open. Oh, and his defense is as good as anyone I’ve ever seen.

SlamsonsRollerskates
Comments
Comments
April 24, 2023 12:14 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Olden State’s Polyknees injuries might be catching up with them as the series goes on. War of attrition.

MichaelMack
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
April 24, 2023 6:13 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Kudo’s for the Glengarry Glen Ross reference.

RobHessing
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
April 24, 2023 10:45 am

comment image
Shown above: Keegan Murray after making his last shot.
comment image
Shown above: Keegan Murray after missing his last shot.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
April 24, 2023 10:57 am
Reply to  RobHessing

He needs to get himself under control, these displays are simply unacceptable.

RobHessing
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Author
April 24, 2023 11:01 am
Reply to  andy_sims

His Barry Sanders-esque demeanor (Kawhi Leonard, perhaps?) is one of the things that I really love about him. Lets his play do the talking. Awesome.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
April 24, 2023 11:12 am
Reply to  RobHessing

I did love how workmanlike Sanders was, especially compared to guys like Dorsett who made a big display before taking the football for his own collection. Pure narcissism.

As has been said: Act like you’ve been there before.

sonny
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
April 24, 2023 11:55 am
Reply to  RobHessing

So Rob,

His last shot went in, then popped out? Lol

They put in points in the box scores then took them away? Sucks….;)

Daydreamer
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
April 24, 2023 11:56 am

This article is so spot on! Thanks, Ziller.

I would only add this about this series: using Davion as much as possible on Curry—the advantage to the Kings should increase as the series goes on, and there is only one day of rest for the games after Wednesday’s. Watch for Curry’s contributions to diminish in the last games. Wear them down!

knox
Original Member
Original Member
April 24, 2023 9:48 pm

Is there a better statement about this season than pulling back in a fan that all but gave up on this team and franchise. Thanks for the article Tom, it was spot on. I thoroughly enjoy your newsletter every morning and am looking forward to the one after the kings are moving on to the next round. I truly believe, whether fox plays or not, that game 5 will be a kings win and we will win either game 6 or 7. Light that dang beam!

Last edited 1 year ago by knox
Milkman
Comments
Comments
April 24, 2023 11:21 pm

Look what the cat dragged in…

Badge Legend

Patreon Supporter Patreon Supporter   Registered On Day 1 Registered On Day 1   Published Post Published Post  Published Post Nostradumbass
Comment Up Votes 200 Up Votes   Comment Up Votes 500 Up Votes    1,000 Up Votes    3,000+ Up Votes

Comments 50 Comments   Comments 100 Comments    250 Comments    500 Comments    1000+ Comments