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Season Review: Keegan Murray

Keegan Murray added multiple dimensions to his game in his sophomore year but now needs to work on bringing everything together consistently.
By | 73 Comments | May 1, 2024

Apr 16, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter during a play-in game of the 2024 NBA playoffs at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our Season Review series, in which we look back at how the season went for each Sacramento Kings player. Today we look at Keegan Murray.

Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox are the faces of the Sacramento Kings, but there may not be a more important player for the near future of this franchise than one Keegan Murray.

Keegan Murray had an excellent rookie year.  Murray was drafted with the expectation that he could come in and help out both now and in the future.  Unlike most other lottery picks who got given a ton of freedom to find themselves and play through mistakes on bad teams, he was asked to step in and play a very specific role on a team trying to break a 16 year playoff streak.  The Kings needed Murray to excel in his role as a spot-up shooter to complement Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox and he delivered.  In his rookie season, Murray started 78 of 80 games and set the NBA record for most threes made by a rookie in a season with 206, and did it with extreme efficiency, shooting 41.1% from distance.  However he was a fairly one dimensional player, which is fine for a rookie.

Murray’s growth was a huge focus for the Kings coming into this season.  While it was fine for him to be fairly one-dimensional as a rookie, his growth hinged on becoming more of a well-rounded player.  That meant being able to create shots for himself and others as well as playing defense.  We saw him play in Summer League at the California Classic where the Kings had him play the role of primary scorer.  De’Aaron Fox took Murray under his wing over the summer and spent the offseason training with him and playing games of one-on-one to hone his two-way game.  All that hard work in the summer paid off this season.

Whereas Murray was asked to focus mostly on one thing (shooting) as a rookie, his sophomore season saw him become more of a jack of all trades.  He was still relied on to hit his outside shots, but now he was also asked to create a bit more offense for himself.  In his rookie season, 60.6% of his total shots were just catch and shoot, while only 10.7% were pull ups.  74.4% of his total attempts came with no dribbles at all.  That changed dramatically in his sophomore season.  Only 46.4% of his total attempts were catch and shoot, and his pull up percentage increased to 25% while just 56.9% of his shots come with no dribbles.

He also focused more on developing the midrange.  In his rookie year, only 6.9% of his total attempts came from between 10 feet and the 3 point line.  This year that went up to 18.7%.  Murray’s three point efficiency took a hit as he made just 35.8% of his total three point attempts (a decrease of almost six percentage points from his record setting rookie season), but his 2P% went up from 52.7% to 56%.  His finishing at the rim, which was an issue during his rookie season, also improved as he opted to finish with authority instead of trying to finesse his way around the basket.  He ended up with 72 total dunks compared to just 39 as a rookie and his FG% at the rim went up almost 5% as a result.

Murray’s expanded offensive game led to more extreme performances.  In his rookie season, Keegan scored 20+ points just 13 times and only scored 30 once.  This season, Murray scored 20+ 18 times, including three times over 30, none better than his 47 point effort against Utah where he made 11 consecutive three pointers (an NBA record), including 12-15 overall.

But Murray wasn’t just asked to contribute more offensively, he was also tasked almost nightly with the toughest defensive matchups.  Right from the start of the season it seemed clear that Murray was going to be asked to be a stopper.  We saw it as early as the first week of the season when the Kings switched him on to Steph Curry as the primary defender.  Just six months earlier, the Warriors had hunted that matchup in the playoffs, but Murray’s offseason work trying to stay in front of Fox paid off and Murray made life as tough on Steph as anyone possibly can.

Throughout the season we continued to see this defensive growth, which proved particularly effective when Keegan was matched up against guys smaller than him as his length allowed him to bother their shots.  Per NBA.com, opponents shot 2.7% worse against Keegan once inside the three point line, and 5% worse when they were within 10 feet.  Murray also ended up leading the Kings in blocks (59) and finished 2nd in steals (79).

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Murray though.  There would be many games where his shot just wasn’t falling.  There were 30 games this season where Murray hit one or fewer three pointers.  That’s not a huge issue in itself, but it is when he’s often tasked with shooting three pointers at volume.  Many of those games weren’t just 1/2 from three, but instead 1/8, or 0/7.  In those 30 games, he shot 20 of 147 (13.6%).  That’s a lot of empty possessions that add up over a season where the Kings missed the playoffs by one game.  Murray particularly got into trouble when shooting threes on the move or off pullups, where he made just 26% of his total attempts, whereas he shot a respectable 37.5% on set catch and shoot threes (still lower than last season but still good).

Murray also has a ways to go to develop himself as a ballhandler, particularly with a defender nearby.  While not exceedingly turnover prone, Murray could get in trouble when having to dribble through traffic.  Better ballhandling will lead to better quality shots and also open up the ability to make plays for others, something he has rarely done in his first two seasons.  There was a funny moment late in the season against the Clippers when Keegan found Domas for a dunk with a bounce pass off a drive and Domas reacted as if he didn’t know Keegan had it in him.

Murray’s importance to the Kings future cannot be understated.  His growth could mean the difference between this team being a true contender or merely just a good team that shows occasional flashes.  Against the Warriors in the first Play-In game, it was Keegan Murray that was the hero, not Domantas Sabonis or De’Aaron Fox.  Murray scored a game-high 32 points to go with 9 rebounds while also guarding Steph Curry for a large part of the game.  But the following game against the Pelicans, Murray struggled, scoring 11 points on just 4-12 from the field.

Consistency will be the name of the game for Murray in year three.  Depending on what happens with Malik Monk this summer, Murray could be tasked with even greater offensive responsibility.  Murray has shown flashes of stardom over his first two seasons but now it will be up to him to turn those flashes into something that the Kings can rely on night in and night out.

(Statistics sourced from NBA.com and basketball-reference.com)

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2024 10:45 am

I’d imagine there would be some debate on who was the third best King this season between Murray and Monk. My conclusion is that it’s Keegan, and it isn’t particularly close. Let’s hope the growth continues and he makes Monte look like a genius for not moving him for the likes of OG or Pascal.

MidtownMike
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May 1, 2024 11:34 am
Reply to  Adamsite

yeah his defensive side of the ball gives him the clear edge over Monk imo

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2024 12:50 pm
Reply to  MidtownMike

The only thing Monk did better than Keegan, and I mean the ONLY thing, is pass the ball.

Hamlet1989
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May 1, 2024 5:05 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

While I don’t disagree with the 3rd best thing, I would rather have the ball in Monk’s hands in the 4th quarter.

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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May 1, 2024 6:50 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Gotta say Monk. Much harder to come off the bench and ignite scoring especially with the second unit on the floor. Monk was stellar and is truly an exciting player and hopefully cornerstone of this team.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2024 6:53 pm

Just look at the numbers.

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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May 1, 2024 8:00 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Apples to apples–starters vs bench? Regardless, both are very valuable and exciting players.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
May 1, 2024 8:14 pm

I’m not sure why coming off of the bench is bump up for Monk. To me it just comes down to production on both ends of the floor when they are playing.

When comparing the two side by side Keegan, IMO, is clearly the more valuable and productive player.

I agree that both are valuable, but I put Keegan as the more valuable by a country mile. I’ll admit, I ton of that has to do with on the defensive end.

In the end, he’s the 3rd most efficient offensive player (just a notch statistically above Monk), but also the best defensive player. Monk, on the other hand, is near the bottom of the roster with his defensive numbers.

cwebb2bibby
May 2, 2024 9:53 am
Reply to  Adamsite

They’re completely different types of players. In a vacuum, Keegan is the more valuable player because of his size and shooting ability, but the game isn’t played in a vacuum or on a spreadsheet comparing numbers. Keegan plays only within the flow of the game. When the game is going to shit, Keegan also plays like shit. He is not capable of imposing his will on a game and changing the game dynamic. Monk comes off the bench and energizes the team when the starters are lethargic and going through the motions. It’s why he’s been one of the best 6th men in the league for 2 years. Our bench production went from respectable to garbage when Monk got hurt.

RikSmits
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May 1, 2024 11:06 am

I love Keegan. His lack of emotion often amuses me, but occasionally also annoys me.

Has to show a bit more aggression and physicality, IMO.

I really hope that he will continue his growth while reminding myself that growth is not often linear.

ScrumhalfVinny
May 1, 2024 11:28 am
Reply to  RikSmits

If the Kings want to contend for a title with this core, Keegan probably needs to become the second scoring option on this team. He needs to become a peak Khris Middleton or a Khawi-lite. A dude that is consistently dropping 20 a game and can explode for 40 when he is on a heater.

In order to do that, he probably needs to really become a scoring threat at all levels. A guy who will decide to go create his own shot more.

But, who knows if the offense is going to ask him to do that, or even allow for it. Leonard and Middleton didn’t become 20ppg guys until their 5th and 6th years respectively. As you mentioned, growth isn’t always linear.

SmoothSactown
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May 1, 2024 11:09 am

Keegan had a strong campaign this year, showing flashes of being That Guy we need next to Fox and Sabonis. Retaining what he gained this year, while improving the percentages through consistency and learning to call on his own number in offense are going to be the biggest drivers forward.
I’m remind of Haliburton when he was here. He had the ability to great things, but I wasn’t sure if he’d learn to assert himself and pull the trigger. To Indiana’s delight, yes he did learn it. Here’s to hoping Keegan finds that in himself aswell.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 12:18 pm
Reply to  SmoothSactown

I agree. He has it and simply needs to do it.

eddie41
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May 1, 2024 12:10 pm

Keegan is another guy who makes winning plays. I like the improvements he made this year.

unrelated note: what are people’s thoughts about Ryan Dunn as a possible 1st round pick for the Kings?

eddie41
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May 1, 2024 2:29 pm
Reply to  eddie41

just saw the virginia duke game. looked like KZ Okpala. not lottery.

but Filipowski looked good for a while. and Beekman broke the school steals record.

murraytant
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May 1, 2024 4:26 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Dunn has size and defensive ability but cannot and I mean cannot shoot.
The top 11 are probably set. The 12th is unclear but the Kings should get a choice of top 11 if drops or Filipowski, Saluun or Johnny Furphy. That’s size and or shooting. Not DaRon Holmes- no range.
I would trade second round pick for some delayed value, not for nothing.
IMO Monte has to go big name and talent hunting. and could use the pick in that way but no way on Dunn

eddie41
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May 1, 2024 7:35 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Yeah, I was tantalized by his highlights and then watched a game.

I agree that Salaun and Filipowski are options to consider at 13. Also Da Silva. Haven’t seen much of Furphy. Will take a look.

murraytant
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May 2, 2024 10:15 am
Reply to  eddie41

Da Silva fits a need. Like Lyles I suppose

eddie41
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May 2, 2024 8:40 pm
Reply to  murraytant

good find with Furphy. shooter and a wiry fighter with good height and athleticism to play the 2. processes quickly, rebounds, has a motor. must be the Aussie rules football or something.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 12:16 pm

Keegan needs to take the next step to be what this team needs to improve.

I think he can do it. If not, he is the next role player.

Jman1949
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May 1, 2024 12:55 pm

Maybe we can skip a step and send him to the Hall of Fame!

Hobby916
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May 1, 2024 1:39 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Put him in the GOAT conversation!

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 9:06 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

You have another MRI?

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 7:55 am

Probably need one. Any recommendations?

AnybodyButBagley
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May 2, 2024 4:51 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

Nope…they are useless for your issue that is obvious here.

Yakshi
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Nostradumbass 21
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May 1, 2024 5:26 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Keegan isn’t in the Hall of Fame already?

I thought I saw his plaque next to Keon’s.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 9:06 pm
Reply to  Yakshi

He is about 18% into his career…

What do you think?

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 9:05 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

That is quite a few steps you skipped.

You aren’t dumb.

What happened?

Jman1949
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May 2, 2024 2:19 pm

I’ll admit it wasn’t an original dumb thought.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 2, 2024 4:49 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

There are other people who put Keegan in the HOF?

Who?

You base your thoughts on other fan boys instead of logic?

Jman1949
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May 2, 2024 5:30 pm

I’ve always learned a lot from considering others’ thoughts, often using them to shape my own. I don’t think of the originator of the comment in question here as a “fanboy”, and I’m quite sure that he (or she) does not think of himself (or herself) as one.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 2, 2024 6:25 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

We typically agree.

Jman1949
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May 2, 2024 9:02 pm

comment image&ct=g

aplumley
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May 1, 2024 1:45 pm

Great write up. I was most encouraged by his defensive development. That is something that I think we’ll always be able to count on. The offensive struggles, while somewhat explainable, are a little more concerning. Was his catch and shoot success in his rookie year an aberration? Going from 41% to 37% is a pretty big difference. Can he become an efficient shooter off the dribble and on pull-ups? I think the improvement from years 1-2 give some confidence that he’ll continue to build on his game.

CorlissWinlesson
May 1, 2024 3:50 pm

Diehard Kings fan, but don’t spend a lot of time looking at the stats. Good write up, helpful to see where his percentages improved and declined from one year to the next.

Watched as many games as I could this season and was really encouraged by what I saw from Keegan. Also went to the Warriors game and it was amazing to see what he can do if he’s aggressive and his shots are falling.

IMO his barriers to growth are mental as much as physical. Hope he embraces the challenge this offseason, and gets some help from management on the defensive end (size and length needed!). Go Kings!

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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May 1, 2024 6:47 pm

He needs to spend alot of 1 on 1 time with Doug Christie working on defense.

murraytant
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May 1, 2024 4:30 pm

He had a solid rookie season. Not much expected and delivered more than that. Had uneven improvement this year- not linear at all.
Defensive improvement was noticeable.
IMO needs some DAWG- needs to act like he belongs out there. oh, yeah and pass the ball more and better.

MidtownMike
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May 1, 2024 9:42 pm
Reply to  murraytant

near identical second year to Tatum, can he make a similar year three jump…if so the kings are likely a top 4 team with the current roster (retaining monk)

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 9:47 pm
Reply to  MidtownMike

Keegan can be the one that turns this thing around. I think he has it in him.

Can he do it?

Will the coaches build an offensive scheme that allows him to do it?

A next level Keegan and Domas is much better than the current Fox and Domas.

murraytant
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May 2, 2024 10:16 am
Reply to  MidtownMike

Yes, Mike, good comparison. We tend to think of Tatum as fully formed early but he really did not jump until year 3.

NowLoveThemOnceAgain
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May 1, 2024 6:42 pm

Excellent analysis! I was fortunate to be at the Utah game where Keegan unloaded 11 straight 3s.

TheBaker
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May 1, 2024 6:58 pm

I love Keegan the basketball player. Easily my favorite current Sacramento King. I love that he can splash a step-back three in someone’s face, pick their pocket, and throw down a dunk with the same level of emotion, and be ready for the next play. Doesn’t have to complain to the ref, doesn’t have to stare down the opponent, doesn’t have to shimmy while his man slips behind him. Just plays basketball and continues to try to get better.

I sincerely hope he gets many more opportunities to call for the ball in end-game situations; or at a minimum, gets the opportunity to him some big shots as Fox or Domas draws in the defense. I don’t foresee him ever being an alpha-scorer, but I don’t think that matters much if he can be consistent and counted-on.

kingarthur916world
May 1, 2024 8:21 pm

Throw everything away . Start with keegan and rebuild the kingdom.

MidtownMike
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May 1, 2024 9:40 pm

Problem is I don’t think you could get a Kings ransom for fox and domas….and we shouldn’t want that anyways.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 1, 2024 9:42 pm
Reply to  MidtownMike

Domas has a huge value. Fox is not going to get much. Pair Fox with Domas in a trade and nobody does it.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 1, 2024 11:05 pm

Fox and Sabonis for Haliburton and Turner

AnybodyButBagley
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May 2, 2024 1:50 am

Who does that trade?

Indiana has seen the Fox and Sabonis show. It isn’t a mystery.

I wish it was Halliburton and Sabonis here.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 2, 2024 7:08 am

Yes – it was sarcasm.

And as wonderful as De’Aaron has been, I too dream of a “what if…” scenario that would have paired Hali and Domas- even if it was in Indy.

AnybodyButBagley
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May 3, 2024 10:04 am

I know….I was adding to it.

Hali and Domas would be a dominant force.

Last edited 17 days ago by AnybodyButBagley
UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 1, 2024 11:37 pm

Consistency, Reliability and then command and demand (aka take charge amd take over). It’s a process.

Mikal Bridges seemed to have found it in Brooklyn last year (his 5th season) and less so this season.

Miles Bridges was headed that way, but that’s a bad dude and a bad story.

Jalen Williams has the aggressive gene in his second season but not consistent (yet)- a bigger stronger Jordan Clarkson

Middleton, PG-13, Kawhi – these are established All-Stars and bigger shoes to fill.

With the rise of Keegan, and the hopeful emergence of a rising star, the Kings have figure out who and how to pair him with in the front court.

Will another near star($100M-$150M contract) player help or impede his growth? A veteran or an up-and-comer? Should it matter?

Jerami Grant seems kinda similar (to me) and Kuzma not that different either (to Murray).

Maybe that’s the ticket to pair with Domas, but I’d like to see another rebounder, defender to aid Domas on D – and it ain’t Trey Lyles. Someone who moves Keegan more to the SF side of the ledger than undersized PF which is sort of where he’s slotted right now. A Nikola Vucevic/Naz Reid/Wendall Carter Jr.?

AnybodyButBagley
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May 2, 2024 1:52 am

Praying the organization doesn’t wreck him.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 5:26 am

I think Zach Collins would be a good fit. Rebounds well, somewhat of a 3pt shooter, and the price is decent.

Jalen Smith is a decent option too. He is out of the rotation with Pacers right now, and if they bring back Siakam and Toppin, he is totally gettable.

Jack
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May 2, 2024 6:27 am
Reply to  Hobby916

That’s my choice. He can also play bachup center. Two birds with one stone.

Jack
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May 2, 2024 6:25 am

I like Tari Eason and Jalen Smith(who we could get with our mle as he is a free agent).Both young up and coming can rebound play defense and shoot the 3.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 7:58 am
Reply to  Jack

Jalen Smith has a player option for 24-25, and I don’t know if he has made a decision on that or not.

I don’t see Eason going anywhere. He was a rotation guy before the injury, is young, and very cheap. The type of guy teams like to keep on their roster.

Jack
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May 2, 2024 8:09 am
Reply to  Hobby916

IMO Smith will opt out. The Pacers can’t give him more than he is earning right now. Go get him Monty. Eason is young and very cheap and that’s why Monty needs to go after him.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 8:50 am
Reply to  Jack

What does Monte have that the Rockets would want for Eason?

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 2, 2024 9:57 am
Reply to  Hobby916

Keegan

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 10:01 am

Well, yeah.

Jack
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May 2, 2024 10:35 am
Reply to  Hobby916

It’s a little more complicated. Kings trade Vezenkov and Mitchell( Rockets have need of a defensive backup point guard) and the #13 pick for Eason and Jeff Green( Green is 37 and has one more year on contract for 9,600 mil,) We get Eason as a starter next to Sabonis and eat Green’s contract for 1 year. After 1 year drop his contract and Kings get back 9,600 mil to work with.

Jack
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May 2, 2024 10:42 am
Reply to  Jack

PS We still would use our mle to pick up Jalen Smith in free agency. Smith would be our bachup center but could also play PF to either help Eason or change places with him. Both are young can rebound protect the weakside rim run with pace and shoot the 3 as a stretch 4. A lot of talent for both.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 10:59 am
Reply to  Jack

So they would trade a 6’8, 3 and D wing defender for an undersized, theoretical defensive PG, a backup PF in Vezenkov that didn’t do much in his rookie season, and the 13th pick for probably their 6th man and some salary relief? If I am Houston, I hang up the phone.

Last edited 18 days ago by Josh Hobson
Jack
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May 2, 2024 12:08 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

Mtchell can score. I’ve watched it the last third of the season. Theoretical defensive player? I’ve watched Mitchell time and time again shut down very good players in this league and that’s what the Rockets are looking for. I agree about Vezenkoz but he isn’t chicken feed either. IMO the Rockets would love to get rid of Green’s contract. He plays less than Sasha and there aren’t very much the Rockets can do to rid them of 9,600 mil. I say to Monty give t a try.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 12:23 pm
Reply to  Jack

I would do that deal if I was the Kings. I just don’t have high hopes for Davion. His defensive stats show him not being a good defender over the course of the season.

I see him as being more pesky than good.

HongKongKingsFan
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May 2, 2024 8:29 am

Quite Disappointed about the performance by Keegan………

Especially when he is not shooting the 3 well……..

Area for improvement:

1) Rebounding
2) 1-on-1 skill
3) Fast break skill
4) Mentality

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 8:52 am

I think he was finding his role in the offense this season. Rookie year he was basically assigned to find an open spot on the perimeter and let the 3 flies. This season he had more options available to him, and waded through his options while staying within the flow of the offense. I think next season his role will be more defined, and hopefully will find his groove.

HongKongKingsFan
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May 2, 2024 8:54 am
Reply to  Hobby916

All I agree is he should take 2nd most of shots attempt behind Fox….

And Mike Brown need to step him up at the very first possession to start to get him hot ASAP

Jack
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May 2, 2024 11:42 am

Keegan was our second best rebounder next to Sabonis. He has really improved on 1 on 1 this year. Now driving to the basket shoots the mid range and can now finish. Sure he can improve on this but so can 99% of the players in this league. Yes he needs to improve on fast break skills but because he is the second leading rebounder on the team what he does is start the fast break not finish it. When he does this he leads himself to be the trailer to shoot the 3. Mentality. I don’t know how to guage this maybe you can help. I agree he doesn’t smile much and he doesn’t act like Draymond Green so I’m not sure what you want him to do? Help me out on this one.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 10:13 am

Can someone provide some insight as to why Bol Bol hasn’t “stuck” on any of the teams he has played for yet? Is it BBIQ, poor shot selection, laziness, etc.? I haven’t seen him play much, so I don’t have much information on him.

Greg
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May 2, 2024 11:17 am
Reply to  Hobby916

The knock on him is a bad attitude and a worse work ethic.

Hobby916
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May 2, 2024 11:29 am
Reply to  Greg

I wonder how he would do with the Kings staff, and seeing how regimented the players are in their work ethic. Maybe a summer of being beaten and bruised by Domas would make things click, haha!

UpgradedToQuestionable
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May 2, 2024 11:17 am
Reply to  Hobby916

No hiding the talent.

But you look at the Bones Hylands, Kelly Oubre, Jr.s and D’Angelo Russells who have looked good on good teams (Denver and Hyland, D’Lo on Lakers, Minny, Golden State (and everyone looks good at GSW – remember Jordan Bell? and back on LAL, Oubre has been on 6 (six!0 team in 9 seasons) and you just have to figure that the history speaks for itself.

Immaturity? Lured by talent and hopeful that this stop will be the one where the mind clicks and the focus can be directed enough to not make the coaches and the teammates all want you gone.

RockRichmond2
May 2, 2024 5:49 pm

All I know is I named my kitten after him so they better not trade him.

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