Kings forward Keegan Murray has been named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month again.
For the second month in a row, the 22-year-old earned the honor for games played in January. He is the fourth Kings player to win Rookie of the Month in two consecutive months.
Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero was named the East's Rookie of the Month.
Just two days before getting back-to-back Rookie of the Month honors, Murray was named a 2022-23 NBA Rising Star. He was one of the 28 rookies, second-year players and G League prospects announced as invitees to the league's annual showcase of its top young talent during All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City.
After averaging 12.7 points on 46.0 percent shooting from the field and 46.4 percent from 3-point range, 3.5 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 28.6 minutes per game in December, Murray’s numbers got even more impressive over the next 31 days.
Murray averaged 14.0 points on 51 percent shooting from the field and 49.5 percent from 3 -point range, to go along with 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 32.3 minutes per game in January (15 games). He also recorded three double-doubles in the Kings' final seven games of the month.
His presence on the floor shows more than numbers can, though. After shaking off early-season nerves, the rookie has had a major confidence boost that’s helped his game on both ends of the floor.
And maybe most importantly for this Sacramento team, Murray's increased aggressiveness has helped defensively for a team led by a defensive-minded coach like Mike Brown.
"He doesn't have the freedom to play through a ton of mistakes," Brown told reporters after the Kings' 119-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. "I'm on him for every single little mistake that he makes. It's not to say that other coaches aren't on their rookies, but they're going to let their rookies play through their mistakes.
"We're trying to win now. We feel like we have the guys to win now, so he's got to play at a high level in order to stay there and contribute which says a lot to the season he's having as a rookie, that's what makes it special."
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As expected from any rookie, the season has been filled with many ups and many downs. The responsibility for him as a starter on a team that hasn't made the playoffs in 16 seasons is a lot pressure for anyone, especially as a first-year forward. But the good news for Murray is he's trending in the right direction.
And as he continues to check off all the boxes under Brown's system, his development continues to be promising.