NBA Draft stock watch: Kentucky G Jamal Murray

Jamal Murray is, quite possibly, the most talented guard in this year’s draft class. The Canadian freshman has perfect size for the 2 at 6-foot-5, 207 pounds and is leading the Kentucky Wildcats with 18.8 points per game.

Thus, given his strong scoring skills and ability to drain the three-pointer, has Murray projected to go eighth overall to the Milwaukee Bucks in its latest mock draft and sets his pro comparison at Jeff Hornacek.

Now, before any rabid Kentucky fans cry foul at this, let’s take a step back. Though primarily remembered as a shooter/three-point specialist, Hornacek enjoyed 14 seasons in the NBA and averaged 14.5 points per game for a career spent with the Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz. Hornacek shot just under 50 percent from the field for his career and made 40 percent of his threes while appearing in one All-Star Game.

Now let’s take a look at Murray’s percentages. He is shooting just 43.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from long range, with 7.6 of his 15.2 field goal attempts per game coming from beyond the arc. Yes, he relies very heavily on his jump shot and long range shooting in general, but Murray is so much better than that. He can drive the lane and draw fouls and isn’t a bad dunker either. If anything, his reliance on his three-point shot this year stems from Kentucky not having a dominant man in the middle who can chip in on offense, thus forcing coach John Calipari to run a guard-based offense as opposed to his preferred dribble-drive method.

But there’s another kicker: Murray is currently projected as a Top 10 pick, putting him in the lottery, and Hornacek was a second-round selection. In terms of the two being compared to each other, it’s probably just because Murray can be absolutely deadly from downtown.

That all being said, despite his seemingly low percentages, Murray’s stock is on the rise. He has showed tremendous athleticism recently and he is averaging 28.3 points while shooting 54 percent from the field and nearly 59 percent from long range during Kentucky’s three-game winning streak. So long as the Wildcats keep rolling upward, so will Murray’s stock.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech stuns No. 3 Oklahoma 65-63
Texas Tech stuns No. 3 Oklahoma 65-63