Last season, the Sacramento Kings made history. They finally snapped the longest playoff drought in league history and put together the highest-scoring offense the NBA has ever seen. While their playoff run was short and ended after a thrilling seven-game series against the Golden State Warriors, it was still a massive success.
Now it is up to the Kings to prove that last season was no fluke. Here are five reasons why they will be able to do that.
Reason #5: Keegan Murray’s development
As a rookie, Keegan Murray averaged 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists and quickly established himself as a vital part of the Kings’ offense. His scoring efficiency was unusual for a rookie, and he shattered the record for most threes made in a rookie season that Donovan Mitchell set in 2017-18.
Among all rookies, Murray had the sixth-highest scoring average behind Paolo Banchero, Bennedict Mathurin, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Williams, and Jabari Smith Jr. Out of this group, Murray by far had the least freedom on the court and the slimmest margin of error, as he was the only one to start on a playoff team.
A player’s first trip to the playoffs is always tough, especially when it comes during their rookie season, but Murray prevailed. Now, he is all set up for a sophomore breakout. He had an amazing Summer League stint, he spent a lot of time working with De’Aaron Fox this summer, and he is surrounded by a great coaching staff and other veteran players.
There is no reason why he shouldn’t take a leap in his second season, and his growth is as crucial to the Kings in the long-term as for their immediate future. The Kings won’t surprise anyone anymore in the way they did last year. Teams will try to take them down now, so they might need some extra firepower, and Murray’s growth would help immensely.
Most of his struggles last season were typical rookie issues, especially on defense. At times, he missed rotations, fouled, or fell asleep on the help side, but there is absolutely no reason why that should not improve.
Another possible knock on his game is the lack of self-creation. 97.6 percent of his three-point attempts and 70.9 percent of his two-point field goal attempts were assisted. If that changes, it could take the Kings’ offense to yet another level by giving Coach Mike Brown an additional go-to scoring option.
Murray already showed that he is capable of this in Summer League, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t carry over to the regular season. While he is still surrounded by veterans, he now has their respect and an established role on the roster. No one will blame him if he calls his own number in the right situations.