Trey Murphy dribbles against Chicago

Trey Murphy named All-Summer League after unbeaten Pelicans excel in Vegas

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

Trey Murphy was the 17th overall pick in the July 29 NBA draft. Based on the results from just-completed summer league, he’s already begun to outperform that status. Murphy was named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team on Wednesday, after helping to spearhead New Orleans to a 5-0 record in Las Vegas, often winning in dominant fashion.

The rookie from the University of Virginia was an all-around force in the four games he played, averaging a team-high 16.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. He shot 56 percent from the field, 44 percent on three-pointers and 100 percent at the foul line, going 6/6 on free throws. That followed up a junior season in which he also shot 50/40/90 in those categories while competing in the ACC, one of the nation’s premier conferences.

“We know he has the ability to shoot the ball at a high, high clip. Any time he’s open, with any space, we want him letting that thing fly without thinking,” Pelicans first-year head coach Willie Green said.

Murphy scored 26 points in his summer debut vs. Chicago, then notched 22 points vs. Golden State in his fourth game, capped by a go-ahead putback in the final seconds of overtime. Although his scoring prowess generated significant attention, he also impressed Pelicans coaches by playing stingy defense. Among his five blocks was a key rejection of Golden State lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga in the final minute of regulation.

“He looked like everything the team hoped he could one day become during his run in Vegas,” SB Nation wrote of Murphy, while listing him among the top eight rookies in summer league. “The big 6-9 forward showed off his shooting skill and his tough defense.”

The NBA named seven players to its official all-league first team, with Murphy joining fellow recent draft picks Jalen Johnson (Atlanta), Davion Mitchell (Sacramento) and Cam Thomas (Brooklyn) on the squad. One-year NBA veterans Payton Pritchard (Boston), Jalen Smith (Phoenix) and Obi Toppin (New York) rounded out the group. The league also named five second-team players (Cade Cunningham, Luka Garza, Jalen Green, Paul Reed, Patrick Williams).

New Orleans one-year veteran forward Naji Marshall built a strong case to be chosen for one of those teams, as the engine behind an unbeaten stay in Nevada for the Pelicans. Marshall averaged 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals. He helped New Orleans post victories by margins of 13, 15, 17 and 28 points, though the Pelicans came up a few points shy of qualifying for the league’s title game (Sacramento defeated Boston to win the championship).

In other categories, point guard Kira Lewis Jr. placed ninth in assists per game (5.8). While playing just over 20 minutes per game, second-round pick Herb Jones made an impact in a variety of departments, averaging 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks.

Green described the team’s overall performance as encouraging and a positive step as the Pelicans begin preparations for training camp in late September.

“I think it’s going to be a great complement to our veteran guys,” Green said. “When you can have young guys like Naji, Trey and Herb (Jones), Kira (Lewis), Didi (Louzada), the rest of our guys, step up and have a really solid summer league, it’s a confidence-builder going into the season. We want those guys to get a little bit of rest, but come into the season feeling like they have a chance to crack the rotation.”

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