Why Keegan Murray could have a better NBA career than other top draft prospects, according to Mike Schmitz
When it comes to the 2022 NBA Draft, the general consensus is three specific players are projected to go within the top three picks in June: Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr. and Duke's Paolo Banchero.
But ESPN's draft experts think there are four outsiders who could wind up having better long-term careers than the trio.
One player that caught draft experts' eyes: Iowa basketball forward Keegan Murray.
Mike Schmitz, an ESPN NBA Draft analyst who just accepted an assistant general manager position with the Portland Trailblazers, raved about Murray's skillset and fit at the next level in an ESPN+ article.
Schmitz wrote that Murray plays "one of the most coveted positions in the NBA," praising his ability to play as a "jumbo small forward, modern 4, and small-ball 5."
"(He's) the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft," Schmitz wrote.
How does Keegan Murray compare to top players in the 2022 NBA Draft?
"When comparing him to Banchero, Murray is an easier fit alongside other ball-dominant players as he's capable of playing for 30-plus without needing many dribbles, as well as playing an off-ball role successfully like he did early in his Iowa career," Schmitz wrote.
While he wouldn't put him ahead of Smith Jr., Schmitz thinks the gap between the two players isn't as vast as one may presume.
"You could make the argument that (Murray) is nearly as versatile of a shooter (as Smith Jr.) while impacting the game in a few more areas given his ability to put pressure on the rim, rebound and make plays off the ball defensively."
More:Here's where Iowa's Keegan Murray is projected in 2022 NBA mock drafts, post-lottery
A Tyrese Haliburton comparison?
Schmitz eyeballed former Iowa State star and current Indiana Pacer Tyrese Haliburton as a current NBA comparison.
"Murray reminds me in some ways of a forward version of Tyrese Haliburton," Schmitz wrote in his analysis. "Some will question his NBA upside because he doesn't have the type of game that pops in a mixtape, but he has incredible touch, stellar all-around instincts and the type of basketball nervous system that lends itself to success."
Keegan Murray 'makes a lot of sense' for Kings, Pistons, other NBA teams
According to Schmitz, Murray "makes a lot of sense" for the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazers — the teams drafting with picks four, five, six and seven in June.
"Because of his off-ball impact and ability to score without much volume, Murray can fit virtually anywhere," Schmitz wrote.
Schmitz pointed to Murray fitting well on the Kings and Pacers, two teams with current or upcoming free agency decisions to make at forward. He also wrote that Murray could fit seamlessly in Portland alongside guards Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.
More:Iowa star Keegan Murray on age concerns ahead of NBA Draft: 'I've always bet on myself'
Keegan Murray broke down film with Mike Schmitz earlier this week
On Monday, the NBA on ESPN released a 28-minute video of Murray analyzing his film with Schmitz. Watch the full interview below:
Read more on Keegan Murray and the 2022 NBA Draft
- 2022 NBA mock draft: With no clear-cut No. 1, who will be Orlando Magic's top choice?
- Iowa's Keegan Murray looks ahead to NBA Draft: 'I'm not even close to where I think I can be'
- Iowa basketball forward Keegan Murray declares for 2022 NBA Draft
Adam Hensley is a digital producer with the USA Today Network. You can follow him on Twitter @A_Hens83 or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.