The 2022-2023 Iowa basketball season didn’t end the way anyone had hoped with a first round exit if the NCAA Tournament at the hands of the Auburn Tigers. But despite the disappointing results finish, the Hawkeyes continue to build momentum as a program. For the fourth straight time in which one was played, the Hawkeyes made the tournament.
On Thursday night, they built on another streak as the Hawkeyes had a player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft for the second straight year and a player taken in the draft for the third straight season. The Portland Trail Blazers selected Murray with the 23rd pick overall on Thursday night.
Murray, who averaged 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 47.6% shooting from the field and 33.5% shooting from beyond the arc as a junior last season, joins brother Keegan not only in the NBA but as a first round pick. Keegan, the number four pick overall a season ago by the Sacramento Kings, set the NBA record for three-pointers made by a rookie with 206.
While Keegan carved out a pivotal role for a revived Kings franchise as a sharpshooter, it was in fact Kris who Hawkeye fans have often considered to be the better shooter. Despite dipping to 33.5% from deep in 2022-2023, Kris has a pure stroke and shot nearly 39% the year before. And with the dropoff in 3-point efficiency on higher volume, Kris was still able to be one of the best players in the conference.
Murray was named first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-American while becoming the only player in college basketball last season to average more than 20 points, seven rebounds and a block per game while also making 65+ threes. Now he looks to take that versatility to Portland and carve out a role and a reputation of his own.
Notably, the Blazers selected Kris one spot before the Sacramento Kings were set to be on the clock, robbing Hawkeye fans and the Murray family of a chance at a family reunion in Sacramento. The Kings were widely expected to take a long hard look at Kris at 24th overall. Instead, they opted for Olivier-Maxence Prosper of Marquette in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks.
As for the fit in Portland for Kris, it... could have been better. The Blazers finished 33-49 last season, good for 13th in the West, and are on the verge of a full rebuild. Here’s what our own NBA analyst SirNicholas33 had to say about the landing spot:
“I DON’T LOVE IT”
Unlike with Keegan, Kris does not have a clear path to a day one starting role in Portland, who are set to return veteran starter Jerami Grant at the PF spot and have a number of role players with a similar build and/or skillset to Murray already on the roster. He will have to earn a spot in the rotation, though how exactly that rotation will evolve remains to be seen given the potential for a rebuild.
Regardless of the lost story lines with a potential reunification in Sacramento with Keegan, or the difficult road ahead given the roster construction and outlook for the Portland franchise, Kris Murray is officially headed to the NBA as a first round draft pick. The next chapter in his journey is just beginning and his future remains very bright.
Congratulations to Kris Murray, Portland Trail Blazer.