NBA Draft 2021 Profile: Trey Murphy III brings shooting and defense on the wing

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

3&D.

It’s a term that has been used so often over the past decade that it has become a part of the everyday vocabulary in basketball.

Teams are always looking for 3-point shooting and defense, with an emphasis placed on forward-sized players that provide both skills. Enter Trey Murphy III, a 6-foot-9 forward that enjoyed a breakout season after transferring to the University of Virginia for the 2020-21 campaign.

With Murphy III’s combination of shooting and versatile defense, NBA teams are understandably looking at him as a clear first-round talent and a rare forward that can add value on both ends of the floor.

In our final 2021 NBA Draft profile on Nuggets.com, let’s take a closer look at Murphy III and what the 21-year-old could bring to the Mile High City.

Background

School: Virginia

Grade: Junior

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 206 pounds

2020-21 Stats:

11.3 PPG

3.4 RPG

1.2 APG

50.3 FG%

43.3 3P%

29.6 MPG

Profile

Any discussion around the value Murphy III adds to a team’s offense has to begin with 3-point shooting. Following a season in which the 21-year-old shot 43.3 percent from beyond the arc, Murphy III finished with a 40.1 percent clip from downtown across his 86 collegiate games.

In fact, Murphy III posted a 50-40-90 campaign this past season, showcasing his elite accuracy from all over the floor.

Focusing specifically on his 3-point shooting, Murphy III is at his best in catch-and-shoot situations. The Junior didn’t look to take many shots off the dribble, which makes sense considering Murphy III shot 41.7 percent on 127 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. Murphy III certainly knows his game and role within an offense, making him an ideal off-ball floor-spacer and shooter.

However, although Murphy III doesn’t have much shake to his off-the-dribble game, he is a very adept cutter and impressive finisher around the rim, which should be music to Nuggets fans' ears.

The 6-foot-9 forward shot 65.9 percent around the rim in the half-court last season, using some sneaky athleticism to get up for highlight-reel dunks and finishes. One can certainly imagine Murphy III spacing the floor for Denver’s guards and Nikola Jokić, all while looking for opportunities to cut to the basket for alley-oops or easy finishes around the rim.

On the defensive end, Murphy III projects to be a versatile defender that can comfortably guard 1-4. At 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Murphy III’s length is one of his greatest attributes on the defensive end of the floor. That length not only allows him to contest shots on the perimeter or recover for blocks inside the paint but also increases his ability to disrupt an offense in the passing lanes with deflections.

With his size, length, and discipline, Murphy III projects to be an elite on-ball defender as he continues to grow his game and add strength. Given the importance of quality perimeter and wing defense in today’s NBA, it’s no surprise to see Murphy III rise up mock drafts in recent weeks.

With his elite shooting, Murphy III can certainly play at the three spot throughout his career, but with added strength he could become a deadly option at the four, providing capable floor-spacing and the ability to switch on the defensive end.

Although at age 21 Murphy III may not have the upside that younger players in the 2021 Draft possess, he certainly enters the NBA with several crucial skills and plenty of experience at the collegiate level that can aid him throughout his rookie season.

What they’re saying

“A tailor-made 3-and-D fit for today’s NBA. Murphy hit 43.3 percent from 3 and 92.7 percent from the foul line this past season at 6-foot-9. He has extremely clean mechanics that project exceedingly well toward success at the next level. But more than that, he’s also a strong defender who moves his feet well and can slide to cut off penetration from opposing drivers.” – The Athletic

“Murphy's stock has been skyrocketing in the pre-draft process as teams have gotten a close look at his combination of outstanding size, length and shooting prowess.” – ESPN

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