Kentucky freshman guard Jamal Murray was projected to go as high as No. 3 to the Celtics before Thursday’s draft began, but just like last year when Emmanuel Mudiay fell into the Nuggets’ laps at seven, general manager Tim Connelly and his front office once again got their guy.
The 6-foot-4 Murray was reportedly third on the Nuggets’ draft board after Simmons and Ingram.
“I didn’t know they liked me as much as they do,” Murray said on his conference call with the Denver media.
Murray, 19, averaged 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and shot 40 percent from 3-point range last year for Kentucky.
The Kitchener, Ontario native played point guard growing up and in high school but moved over to the 2-guard last season with the Wildcats. Kentucky had a plethora of ball handlers including Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe. Murray says he prefers to play point guard but recognizes with Emmanuel Mudiay in Denver he will need to play off the ball as well.
“I’m a point guard in a two-guards body,” Murray said. “It’s gonna be fun. We’re going to play off each other.”
The potential of a Mudiay-Murray backcourt is enticing.
Murray excelled at coming off of screens last season at Kentucky and was potent in catch-and-shoot situations. However, Murray will first have to unseat Gary Harris at the starting shooting guard. Harris’ defense and improvement last season should keep him with the starting unit, at least to begin the year.