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Friday, May 24, 2013

Scouting Report: Erik Murphy

Coming out of high school, Erick Murphy was a consensus top 50 recruit. He decided to come to Florida where he spent his first two seasons behind Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, and Patric Young but his patience paid off. Unlike many players you see today, Murphy didn't transfer when he saw he wouldn't be able to see consistent playing time. He decided to stick it out, build up his strength, and then he was able to play a big role for the Gators in his final two years. 

It was a good choice for his draft stock as well. Florida's offense has produced many pros like Murphy - skilled offensive players who really have a good feel for the game. Florida runs a very pro-style system with lots of movement and spacing, complete with pick and pop scenarios and an inside-out attack. As a stretch forward, Murphy thrived in the offense.

The best part of Murphy's game and obviously his calling card in the NBA will be his ability to stretch the floor. Murphy has a pure stroke from deep and hit 45.3% of his 3-pt attempts in conference play this season. He's very much a pure shooter, but can continue to work to speed up his release. He had games where he simply was unable to miss. He hit 5 3-pters in a game twice and in addition, had a perfect 10-10 field goal night against Wisconsin, many of them coming on jumpers. Along with shooting above 40% from deep each of his three seasons, Murphy also shot above 75% at the free throw line as well.

In Florida's system, Murphy was able to get plenty of good looks from deep. Their offense does a great job of preparing guys for the pros, forcing players to make reads and react. Its a system with a lot of freedom and spacing, running very much like a NBA offense. Its helped plenty of former Gators transition into the NBA as offensive guys. Brad Beal, Matt Bonner, David Lee, Mike Miller, Al Horford, Chandler Parsons, Udonis Haslem, and other prominent names have been able to come in right away and find a fit on offense. There are plenty of shooters and offensively skilled guys that come out of college each year, but Billy Donovan's guys usually come out of school with an edge over most that carries over to the next level. He's seen a lot of his players overachieve for their draft position.

With Patric Young occupying space down low, Murphy was able to play the stretch forward role he will be asked to play in the NBA. Playing alongside three guards who could also shoot, Florida's offense was extremely dangerous and shared the ball well. Murphy was perhaps the most valuable and versatile part of the attack. Murphy forced big men to come out and play them. If they didn't, he would hit the trail 3 with ease. If they did, Murphy could take them off the dribble.

Murphy isn't very quick off the bounce, but he is a good ball handler and uses his body well. His strength and willingness to play physical is an underrated part of his game that helped him get to where he needed to be with the ball in his hands. He has good balance on his drives and is always under control. Murphy doesn't always seek to get all the way to the rim, but if he can just get to the foul line, he usually finds a way to get up a good shot.

A lot of times, that good shot is a hook shot. And almost always, its with his right hand. Murphy has very good footwork and if he gets to the free throw line, he can post up and create a scoring opportunity. He has counter moves in the post and can fake either way multiple times, but his moves are always intended to finish a shot going over his left shoulder. 

While he has propensity to go right, I think Murphy has more of an ability to go to his left than he has shown. Around the basket, he uses his left hand to finish without a problem. His combination of footwork, touch, ability to use both hands, and added strength has made him a very good finisher at the rim in college. 

In the pros, Murphy doesn't have the length or athleticism to finish consistently inside, but its good to see he has other ways to finish. He's not very quick off the floor and lacks foot speed. His wingspan is short at only 6'10.5, but he has a surprisingly high standing reach at 9 feet. With that kind of physical profile, you can't expect Murphy to be anywhere close to effective at the rim as he was in college.

His little right handed hook also won't be as good. In college, Murphy seeked out contact whenhe shot it by going into defenders bodies. It wasn't as graceful of a hook shot as you'd expect from a guy like Murphy. It was more of his only way to get to the foul line. Murphy never was able to get to the line on straight drives from the perimeter or closer in - the fouls he drew were more of the more physical variety.

Despite improved physical play, Murphy will never be one of those tough rebounders down low who can get easy baskets. His toughness shows that he can play and rebound in the NBA - perhaps better than other stretch four candidates like Ryan Kelly and Grant Jerrett, but nothing more.

Luckily for Murphy, his jump shots are often just as good as layups. And he has the makings of a finesse mid-range game as well, complete with a very smooth turnaround jumper. He knows how to square up, use jab steps, and get the defender to pause just long enough to get the shot off. He also is a good passer, especially from the perimeter where he sees the court very well. He makes quick decisions, keeps the ball moving, and does a good job moving without the ball after he passes it. Being a good passer as a stretch 4 is important because you will be expected to pass from the perimeter like a guard a lot and it also helps free yourself up.

Murphy was a mismatch nightmare in college - able to post up smaller defenders and able to take bigger guys off the dribble. In the NBA, he will still be able to provide mismatch problems to a degree. More importantly, he will be able to spread the floor and consistently hit jumpers. He will fare very well as a pick and pop threat and a guy who fits trail threes. 

Defensively, Murphy will be lucky to be average at best due to his lack of lateral quickness and overall athleticism. He will struggle to stay in front of quicker guys, doesn't have the length to contest shots, and will still be weaker than the scoring post players in the league. Murphy is a decent rebound and displays a very good set of hands.

Overall, Murphy looks like the best stretch forward prospect in the second round. He has competition from Ryan Kelly, Grant Jerrett, Kenny Kadji, and other guys likely to go undrafted, but Murphy seems like the most well-rounded and ready to contribute of the group. I also think he is the best shooter of the group - which is perhaps the most important thing. The Florida pedigree won't hurt his draft stock either. Look for him to go somewhere in the second round and potentially have a Matt Bonner-type career in the right situation. 

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