The New Orleans Pelicans have been led in scoring by Trey Murphy III in their first two games of Summer League.
It’s been an up and down event for the Pels, who have already lost their two rookies to injury, with Dyson Daniels going down with what is hopefully a mild ankle sprain, and EJ Liddell with a far more serious ACL injury in his knee that will likely cost him most or all of the season.
But there have been some bright spots, as Trey Murphy III has had some great moments and there have been a couple of under-the-radar players who have made an impact in their efforts to land on an NBA roster.
Murphy III has averaged 26.5 points in the two games so far, but it’s not so much the numbers that matter, but how he is getting them.
New Orleans Pelicans: How Trey Murphy III is developing on offense
We often see things in Summer League that are not likely to carry over to the regular season. For example, I don’t think we’ll see Naji Marshall playing a ton of point guard once the games are real, though it’s worth exploring if he can thrive as a playmaker.
There are other things that are the signs of things to come, which may be the case with Trey Murphy III, who is clearly adding wrinkles to his offensive game.
Last season TMIII took almost all of his shots from behind the 3-point line and averaged less than a free-throw attempt per game.
He rarely made plays off the dribble, and was fairly predictable and easy to defend, as he mostly hovered around the 3-point line looking for open spot-up shots.
So far in the Summer League we’ve seen TMIII put it on the floor a lot more to make plays and get to the line, where he is an excellent free-throw shooter.
Last season 66 percent of Murphy III’s shots came from 3-point range, and in Summer League that number has dipped to 44 percent.
But the biggest difference is that he has gotten to the line a whopping 8.5 times per game, which can be a weapon for him, as he is big enough to grab boards and looks like he has put on the extra muscle to absorb contact and still get the finish.
He didn’t get the call here, but we’ve been seeing a lot of plays like this in the first two games:
He’s been catching defenders off guard by aggressively penetrating off the bounce, which has led to a lot of reaching and fouls.
TMIII is certainly not going to be handling the ball as much during the regular season, but adding this wrinkle to his game will undoubtedly help his 3-point shooting, as it will force defenders to hesitate and think twice on close outs.
When they come flying at him on the 3-point line, he can blow by defenders and draw a lot of fouls, getting to the line where he shoots nearly 90 percent.
You can’t take too much from Summer League, but TMIII looks like a guy who is going to make a big leap offensively next season.