Five things to know about Pelicans forward Trey Murphy III
1) His NBA draft stock improved perhaps as much as any NCAA player’s as a result of the 2020-21 season. As ESPN analyst Mike Schmitz described of Murphy, he was “maybe the biggest riser. This is a guy that most people had undrafted coming into the season.” Even after a solid junior season in which he averaged 11.3 points and shot 50.3 percent from the field for Virginia, Murphy initially declared for the draft but maintained his college eligibility, leaving open the possibility to return to school. He later signed with an agent in June, as it started to become more evident he would be a first-round pick.
2) Murphy transferred from Rice to Virginia after two seasons with the Owls. According to reports, it was initially anticipated that Murphy might have to sit out 2020-21, but the NCAA granted him a waiver to be eligible to play immediately for the Cavaliers. That transfer brought him to the Atlantic Coast Conference and back to the part of the country where he was born and raised. Murphy was born in Durham, N.C., and went to high school at Cary Academy in Cary, N.C.
3) Early this week, Murphy’s name began showing up on mock drafts as a potential pick for New Orleans, after the Pelicans agreed in principle on a trade that moved them to the middle of the first round at No. 17 (a deal expected to be finalized later). On The Athletic, John Hollinger wrote of Murphy “he’s a tall wing who can shoot and slide his feet. The Pelicans roster is all but devoid of players of this ilk, so he has a pretty clear pathway to rotation viability in New Orleans.” In a separate final mock, CBSSports.com wrote of Murphy and the team, “The Pelicans want to put as much shooting and defense as possible around Zion Williamson, and Murphy checks both boxes.”
4) As has been noted by numerous draft analysts, Murphy is one of the premier shooters in the 2021 class. He shot 40.1 percent from three-point range over his three-year college career (86 games, 45 starts), topped by a career-best 43.3 during his single season with Virginia. That helped make him a 50-40-90 shooter last season, as he also made 50.3 percent of his attempts from the field and an elite 92.7 percent of his free throws. He went 38/41 at the foul line in 2020-21 and essentially increased his percentage at the charity stripe by 10 points each of the past two campaigns.
5) The 21-year-old adds to a rapidly growing contingent of Virginia products playing in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference, eight different ex-Cavs appeared in at least one regular season game in 2020-21, a list topped in prominence by Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana) and Joe Harris (Brooklyn). The others are Anthony Gill (Washington), Kyle Guy (Sacramento), De’Andre Hunter (Atlanta), Ty Jerome (Oklahoma City), Mike Scott (Philadelphia) and Mamadi Diakite, who played in 14 games and won a championship as a rookie with Milwaukee.