The San Antonio Spurs are a little more than one week away from making their sixth lottery selection in franchise history, but there are reports that PATFO are looking to use the 9th, 20th, 25th, and 38th picks to maneuver closer towards the top of the 2022 NBA Draft.
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Rafael Barlowe of NBA Big Board are two reputable writers saying the Silver and Black are trying to consolidate picks to avoid bringing four rookies into training camp. And it appears that general manager Brian Wright is focusing on Keegan Murray, according to a Q&A with Matt Babcock of Basketball News.
San Antonio has met with 48 prospects through workouts and interviews as we approach June 23rd. Keegan Murray has no confirmed contact with the team up to this point. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the two parties are not familiar with one another.
The Spurs sent staff to the Iowa versus Nebraska game on February 25th when Keegan Murray squared off with fellow potential first-rounder Bryce McGowens and the Cornhuskers, per Jimmy Watkins of the Omaha World-Herald. That could be a coincidence. Then again, San Antonio has several reasons to be interested in the six-eight combo forward.
Big stage for Bryce McGowens tonight. NBA teams with reps in attendance:— Jimmy Watkins (@JimmyWatkins95) February 26, 2022
Murray was one of the biggest breakout stories in college basketball last season, averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 boards while shooting 55.4% from the field and 39.8% from beyond the arc. The 21-year-old sophomore was stunningly efficient on post-ups, put-backs, and isolations. And he ranked as the deadliest transition scorer in the nation.
On top of his offensive exploits, the former Hawkeye registered 1.3 steals and 1.9 blocks per game, creating chaos in the passing lanes and swatting shots as a weakside rim-protector. Despite lacking elite footspeed or top-flight athleticism, Murray was consistently dependable guarding forwards one-on-one and showed he could switch onto the perimeter in a pinch.
Though that brief scouting report on Keegan Murray makes him a perfect fit for a San Antonio team in desperate need of frontcourt help alongside Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs may not have the assets to move high enough to secure their target.
Unfortunately for the good guys, DraftKings has Murray at -120 to be the fifth overall pick, the best odds out of any prospect they think has a shot to come off the board at that slot. So would it be worth it for them to give away multiple bites of the draft apple for a player with a lower ceiling than Jabari Smith Jr. or Paolo Banchero? Probably not, but that is for the front office to determine.