It’s been awhile - let’s dive into the home stretch of the NBA regular season!
This starts and stops with Keegan Murray and the playoff-bound Kings. Since our last check-in at the All-Star break, the Kings have gone streaking, winning 14 of 19 to 1) cover their over/under win total - duh, that’s obviously the most important thing here - and 2) end their ridiculous, absurd playoff drought, qualifying last night for the first time since 2006 after a 120-80 rout of the tanking Portland Trail Blazers that led to “Light the Beam!” chants in Portland’s Moda Center.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 30, 2023
The Kings have clinched a spot in the #NBAPlayoffs! #BeamTeam | @dialpad pic.twitter.com/RrChLgnFQc
While they were in the process of handing the “Longest Playoff Drought in North America” baton to the New York Jets, Our Man Keegan set a bit of history and *gasp* smiled in the the process. With his third 3 of the game, Keegan set the NBA record for made 3s by a rookie. Murray now sits at 188 made 3s, one more than Donovan Mitchell during his rookie campaign in 2017-18.
he smiled! pic.twitter.com/UslO5dQneO— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 30, 2023
Keegan set this record in five fewer games than it took Mitchell to set the record, and on 88 fewer attempts. For the year, Keegan is shooting 40.7 percent from 3, the highest percentage by a first-year player with 400 or more attempts. Ever.
To fully measure the gravity of this record, take a look at this graphic.
March 30, 2023
That record is not owned by Stephen Curry. Or Damian Lillard. Or Mitchell. Or Luka Doncic. Or Anthony Edwards. It’s owned by Keegan Murray. And he still has 7 games left to go! Let’s see this record get pushed out toward 200 makes. Make it really hard for someone to break it.
What a story for Keegan, and what a story for the Kings. This team was laughed at when they took Keegan at #4 in last year’s draft - typical Kings, passing on a player like Jayden Ivey. People howled when they traded Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis, a trade that EVERYONE graded as an A+ for Indiana while shaking their heads in disgust that the Kings traded a guy that wanted to be in Sacramento and might be a top 15-caliber player for a center not named Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid.
Well, the Kings got the last laugh last night. Keegan and Kevin Huerter have been excellent additions to the roster, a roster that is fun as hell and can get the blow torch out on teams from all areas of the court. De’Aaron Fox has been a revelation. Sabonis will make an All-NBA team (3rd team center; lock that in). Fox could make an All-NBA team as well. Keegan will land on the All-Rookie team. What an amazing job by Monte McNair in assembling this roster and adding a good, veteran coach in Mike Brown. They’ve conjured a great team with legitimate chemistry that will cook some teams come playoff time.
Not only did the Kings end their playoff drought, their magic number for the 3-SEED is 2.