The 2022 NBA Draft was full of surprises. But few shocked as many fans as when the Sacramento Kings selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray over Purdue guard Jaden Ivey.
▪️ɴᴄᴀᴀ ᴘᴏɪɴᴛꜱ ʟᴇᴀᴅᴇʀ— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) June 24, 2022
▪️ᴄᴏɴꜱᴇɴꜱᴜꜱ ꜰɪʀꜱᴛ ᴛᴇᴀᴍ ᴀʟʟ-ᴀᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀɴ
▪️ꜰɪʀꜱᴛ ᴛᴇᴀᴍ ᴀʟʟ-ʙɪɢ ᴛᴇɴ
▪️ʙɪɢ ᴛᴇɴ ᴛᴏᴜʀɴᴇʏ ᴍᴠᴘ
Welcome to Sactown, Keegan Murray 👑 pic.twitter.com/gJQJpIhgj1
Murray was a star at Iowa, dropping 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on 55.4/39.8/74.7 shooting. He projects as a skilled shooter and a promising wing defender, a position that is really en vogue in today's NBA.
And nothing against Murray. He may well turn into a household name within the NBA.
But Ivey is a dynamic open-floor athlete, the kind of long, fluid guard that NBA teams salivate over. It's no surprise some around the league view Ivey as a Ja Morant-type prospect. Morant even congratulated Ivey on his selection on Twitter after being selected by the Pistons at No. 5.
ahhhhhh letssssss goooooooo la brudda 💙 @IveyJaden— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 24, 2022
my la brudda 💪🏽 https://t.co/kO6QYlsZwV— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) June 24, 2022
Ivey was widely considered to be the best prospect left when Sacramento was on the board. Yet they took Murray.
The Kings have had a tendency to make surprising moves in the draft. For some, Murray's selection evokes memories of 2018, when they took Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic. For others, 2012 comes to mind — the year Sacramento took Thomas Robinson over Damian Lillard. The 2011 Draft wasn't a particularly kind year for Sacramento fans, either: the Kings took BYU sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette over future All-Star Klay Thompson.
this is legitimately staggering pic.twitter.com/ShwwPxGxB2— claire de lune (@ClaireMPLS) June 23, 2022
Upon further review, though, it isn't shocking the Kings passed on Ivey. The Purdue guard turned down a workout and didn't supply medical records to Sacramento. By all accounts, Ivey did not want to be a member of the Kings, so the team went with who they felt was the next best option.
Given Sacramento's penchant for stockpiling guards, though — last season was defined by the Kings' decision to pick young guards De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell over Tyrese Haliburton, who was promptly traded to Indiana — the Murray pick may make sense. Mitchell's a dogged defender, but with Domantas Sabonis slated to play big minutes, it would behoove Sacramento to have long, talented defenders who can make up for Sabonis' athletic deficiencies.
Still, Kings fans are hoping the decision to draft Murray — and not draft Ivey — turns out better than it did in years' past.