The New Orleans Pelicans have a checkered history in recent times in regards to the NBA Draft. It’s hard to analyze how well a team did in a draft, particularly when players enter the league at such a young age.
Even more challenging is trying to figure out how great a particular player can be before they play their first game in the NBA. It’s hard, but I don’t think it’s impossible.
That directs my attention to the New Orleans Pelicans and their first-round draft pick, Trey Murphy III. Pelican fans are clamoring over just how good Murphy can be at the next level.
I’m going to examine what player I think Trey Murphy III can become if everything goes according to plan, as well as if everything goes poorly.
New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy III”s Floor- Jae Crowder
I was shocked the Pelicans were able to snag Murphy past the lottery, in large part to his high floor. With his 6″9 height and impressive frame, he offers the ideal size for the modern NBA.
His entire playstyle is also catered towards the league, focusing on the three-ball and defensive versatility. He shot 43% from downtown at UVA and was one of the more physically imposing defenders in the ACC.
There’s a scenario that Murphy doesn’t progress as an offensive threat and is used primarily as just a spot-up shooter on that side of the floor. Defensively it’s hard to imagine he isn’t at least above average with his frame and ability.
That profile reminds me a lot of Suns forward Jae Crowder. The journeyman has averaged less than 10 points per game throughout his career and has never been anything more than a fourth option on a playoff team. Yet, every season he is garnering attention from the best teams in the league because he is a winning player.
Murphy has the same playstyle that can be advantageous to teams vying for a title. Crowder has been in the league for nearly a decade, and Murphy should be as well.
This floor seems generous, but it’s hard for me to believe Murphy isn’t in the league for years to come. He has “It”, and the Pelicans should be grateful they got someone of this caliber while trading back in the draft.
New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy III’s Ceiling- Athletic Khris Middleton
The summer of Khris Middelton is finally winding down, so I’ll have to give him his flowers one last time. Like Murphy, Middleton was overlooked in the draft, falling to second-round back in 2012.
Despite his struggles throughout the years, Middleton has carved out an excellent career for himself. At age 30, he’s now a two-time All-Star and is a proven second-option on a title team.
He was primarily a spot-up shooter when he first cracked the rotation but has developed a well-rounded offensive arsenal. Middleton has added a great game near the rim and has been a may proprietor of resurrecting the mid-range jump shot from the dead.
Murphy is such a great shooter that he could presumably use the mid-range jumper to his advantage. His number one issue is creating his shot off the dribble, which Middleton also had struggles with.
Due to his lack of natural athleticism, Middleton uses body control and whit to generate space. That’s where Murphy can have an easier time because he’s a natural athlete who may have an easier time becoming a complete offensive weapon.
The talent is undeniable, and Murphy can become a top 30 player in the league one day. Between his raw talent, paired with his elite shooting and willingness to get better, he has all the makings to be the gem of the 2021 NBA Draft.