Jamal Murray watched this year’s NBA Finals for a couple of reasons. One, he loves basketball, and two, he wanted to scout his future competition. Murray was impressed by what he saw, but he wasn’t intimidated.
Perhaps that’s because the 19-year-old could be the best all-around guard in the draft.
“That’s why (I went) to Kentucky,” Murray said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I felt like I was ready to play at Kentucky and I was advanced enough skill-wise. Going to the league is the same thing. You just got to get stronger, quicker – all the aspects of being more of an athlete. But I’ll do fine.”
Murray averaged 20.0 points and 5.2 rebound per game in his only season at Kentucky and was the Wildcats’ best player by the end of the year. The Kitchener, Canada, native will almost assuredly give John Calipari yet another lottery pick, which may or may not be part of his recruiting pitch.
“Its not just him; it’s the players, too,” Murray said. “The players want to get better. They want to find a way to get to the next level. They don’t want to stay in college. Coach Cal does a great job of getting guys there and having a history of getting prospects to where they need to go. He does a great job. One of the greatest coaches I’ve ever had.”
Murray said he has been working on his body to prepare for Thursday’s Draft.
“Just trying to keep up with the speed,” he said. “It’s a much faster game, so I got to get my stamina up, got to get my strength up, move quicker, got to be able to defend great one-on-one players – just become an all-around defender and have more awareness on the court. (I’ve got) to be a complete player. You can’t be one-sided.”
Murray, who might be the best shooter in the draft, said he’s a “point guard in a 2-guard’s body” and will play whichever position his future team needs him to fill. While Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will likely go No. 1 overall, it’s not outlandish to say Murray has top-pick talent.
“Going first is one of those dreams (you have as a kid),” Murray said. “But realistically, there’s so much stuff that happens behind the scenes team-wise, position-wise, coaching staff, coaching system – you just want to go to the right team. You want to figure out how to play with that team and have ultimate belief in who you’re with. You just want to find out who’s the right fit for you.”
Murray, who averaged 23.7 points in his final 15 college games, believes he’s worthy of the No. 1 pick.
“I believe I have all the aspects to be a great player in this league,” he said. “My work ethic is there. I’m somebody you can count on to get the job done and can adjust to any team. I can play on the ball, I can play off the ball, I can shoot the ball, I can handle it. I can take over as a player and help the team with whatever it needs.”