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Keegan Murray headlines Summer League performances among former Hawks

The Kings first round draft pick led all rookies in scoring during the exhibitions

2022 Las Vegas Summer League - Orlando Magic v Sacramento Kings Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Across the last couple weeks, the NBA had some Summer League events where former Hawkeyes participated. The most notable, of course, was the 30-team tournament-ish in Las Vegas which saw the Portland Trail Blazers take home rings. Keegan Murray headlined former Iowa Hawkeyes there, but also participated in the California Classic. Below are some highlights.

Keegan Murray

California Classic: 3 games, 19.7 PPG, 51% FG%, 44% 3P%, 8.0 RPG, 2.7 TOPG
Las Vegas: 4 games, 23.3 PPG, 50% FG%, 40% 3P%, 7.3 RPG, 2.5 TOPG

I caught all but one performance from Murray and the kid did not disappoint in my viewings. His worst outing was a single-digit scoring performance in California against the Miami Heat’s squad, though the Kings’ outfit came out with the win. The Kings group went 5-2 across the two locations, including a round robin sweep in the California Classic. He led all scorers there by over 5 PPG as the marquee player and looked the part, overall.

Murray didn’t look timid in the first three games by any stretch, but his patience stuck out as a guy who let the game come to him. He opened with a cool 20+ performance on efficient shooting, which is something we all know about. Throughout the first three games, he struggled with turnovers as he ramped up to the level of competition.

(A quick aside: I think the “iT’s JuSt SuMmEr LeAgUe” criticism which follows success in the format does a disservice to those involved. The athleticism is ramped up from the normal course of action in college ball and for a guy like Murray who isn’t ball dominant, possessions can be hard to come by. Plus, all these guys are competing for paychecks in the NBA, G League, or abroad. It’s not the NBA, but it’s not nothing.)

By the end, though, he did what we all knew he’s capable of, sealing the “championship” with a five-point fourth quarter which included a block & a steal.

In Vegas, the competition amped up a bit as he had individual matchups with the other top draft picks: #1, Paolo Banchero; #2, Chet Holmgren, & #6, Benedict Mathurin. His team lost to the Magic and Thunder but it wasn’t without some highlights from Keegan.

Individually, I believe Banchero eked Murray out in their face-off, but Murray had the highlight of the game with a buzzer beater off a steal to send it to overtime:

And he way out-stat-ed Holmgren in their matchup where the two guarded one another for the bulk of the contest. Holmgren does so freaking much which doesn’t show up on box scores but when it’s this lopsided, I get the feeling Sacramento and their fans are over the moon about Keegan.

He also added this, dare I say, wilder buzzer beater against Phoenix in a game where he finished with 29 points:

Among rookies, he looked the most consistent across the most games. Jaden Ivey was injured early in his second outing while Banchero was put on ice after the matchup with Murray. As I allude above, Holmgren is a super interesting prospect and, I believe, deserving of that second pick. Jabari Smith, Jr. had his ups and downs and as one of the youngest guys in the draft is gonna get some time to grow in a way that Murray is not.

Overall, I thought Murray looked like a more confident shooter across the six games I watched than while at Iowa. I felt like his shot was coming quicker and from a more diverse array of setups (vs. open catch-and-shoots). He also showed some improvement off the bounce with his assists jumping from under 1 in California to over 2 in Vegas. His finishing at the rim at the level progressed throughout the weeks to where he was for much of last season and his athleticism passed the eye test. He looks like a day one starter for the Kings and, my humble opinion, a solid bet for Rookie of the Year at +700. Not financial advice!

Some other tidbits re: Keegan. Marcus Spears is pretty high on the Kings and had good things to say about Murray in this pod with Brian Windhorst. Keegan joined Chris Haynes on an enjoyable 25-minute podcast. Murray is his even-keeled self for much of it but was most excited when talking about simply getting back to playing basketball. Kenyon Murray was on the last broadcast and was pretty funny when talking about Keegan & Kris. He mentioned Kris was the tougher child to raise! Someone get me that video!

Kings Film Room broke down Keegan’s play in the aftermath:

If you’re looking to avoid spending $199 on NBA League Pass to follow Keegan, @SacFilmRoom will be a great way to keep up to tabs with the former Hawk.

Am I more excited for Kings basketball than Iowa football? I have been advised by my attorneys to plead the fifth!

7/18 PM update: Keegan was announced as the event’s MVP & named to the first team. He was the only rookie among the five.

Luka Garza

Garza participated on the Summer League Champion Portland Trailblazers. They got a ring:

Garza started a couple games for the Blazers and had 6.5 points/game in 14 minutes of action. He added 3.8 rebounds/game.

He was released earlier this offseason by the Detroit Pistons as they beefed up their frontline in the draft and through free agency. In individual workouts, Garza works his tail off as expected but my read on his play in Summer League is that he needs the right defensive system to stay on the court. He just looks too slow when forced to cover a ton of ground, especially in the pick & roll.

There’s no news as of this writing about where Garza will spend his 2022-23 season. I’d be surprised if he sets his sights overseas, considering the skillset he still has offensively. In his rookie season, he averaged 5.8 PPG across 32 contests. I still think there’s a place for him in the league.

Jarrod Uthoff

Old friend alert!

Uthoff averaged 5 points in about 12 minutes for the defending champion Golden State Warriors’ summer league team. The 2016 alum has spent time across the G League and abroad as well as a couple cups of coffee in the association. My guess is that is he’ll return overseas but who knows!

Joe Wieskamp

Wieskamp missed the session with an ankle injury sustained in practice leading up to Vegas. The Hawk tallied 29 games with the Spurs last year on a two-way contract which was converted to a full-time NBA one. He averaged 13 points and 5 boards a game with their G League affiliate. I suspect he’ll return to the Alamo, given they’re about to tank for Victor Wembanyama.

Tyler Cook

The fourth-year pro didn’t have a home for summer league after playing 20 games for the Chicago Bulls. He tore up the G-League in three contests (25 ppg) and looks in that middle ground between too physically capable for the G-League but not quite skilled enough to have a presence in the NBA. If you’ve got a run, let him know, though.