Wizards

UVA's Trey Murphy III could be a 3-and-D, mid-draft steal

Wizards

The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.

2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Trey Murphy III

School/Team: Virginia

Position: Forward

Age: 21

Height: 6-9

Weight: 206

Wingspan: 7-1 (reportedly)

2020/21 stats: 25 G, 11.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.4 bpg, 50.3 FG% (3.8/7.6), 43.3 3PT% (2.1/4.8), 92.7 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Danny Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington N/A , Sports Illustrated N/A, Ringer N/A, NBADraft.net N/A, Bleacher Report 35th

5 things to know:

-Even though Murphy projects as a late-first round, early-second round prospect, he will be a fantastic fit if a team utilizes him in the proper role. When it comes to 3-and-D prospects, there isn't a player that fits the definition for that role more than Murphy. The lengthy small forward played his NBA role to a tee in his lone season at Virginia. Few prospects have the 3-point prowess that Murphy does. 

-Much of Murphy's rise into a potential first-round prospect comes from his use of the transfer portal. The first two years of his career, Murphy played for Rice as a notable contributor. His sophomore year he led the Owls with 13.7 points before making the jump to Virginia. Already a potent scorer (shooting 43.3% from three), Murphy honed in on his defensive abilities at Virginia.

 

-Some will criticize the Virginia standout for his lack of playmaking and creation ability. That, however, might be how he thrives with whichever team drafts him. Yes, Murphy needs to improve on his overall ballhandling skills - that is certain. Yet, he knows his capabilities and doesn't try to do too much outside of his role. Every team needs a 3-point shooter and he is more than competent in other areas of his game. 

-There are 3-point shooters that can completely swing the tides of game (ie. Seth Curry in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals). Whatever instinct it takes to take over games from just beyond the arc, Murphy has that. In his first game with the Cavaliers, he went off shooting 6-for-8 from deep in just 17 minutes of game time. Granted it was a blowout against Towson, but when he gets hot, the game could be over. 

-There shouldn't be any concerns on if his shooting will carry over to the NBA. It will. Across the board, his percentages are elite for his position and consistent throughout his three-year career.

Fit with Wizards:

One of the biggest needs for the Wizards last season wasn't just 3-point shooting, but a depth of shooting beyond the arc. Last season alone, the Wizards were 23rd and 28th in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made per game respectively. Washington and general manager Tommy Sheppard will likely have several players of Trey Murphy's ability on their radar entering the draft.

On top of Murphy's exceptional shooting percentages, defensively he would be a huge boost to a team that historically struggled to limit opponents. Murphy stands at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan. Up and down a roster, Murphy has the skills to shut down multiple positions. 

His feet are quick enough to shut off the penetration of guards and his length makes him a force against bigs. Easily he would be the most versatile defender for Washington aside from perhaps Isaac Bonga. 

Additionally, there's a glaring hole at the three position. While 2020 first-round pick Deni Avdija showed promise, he didn't necessarily lock up the position for the future. It would certainly have to be a role that he grows into, but again that position is open. 

Given Murphy's age and lack of an expansive game, it would likely be a stretch to take the Virginia product at 15th overall. Teams draft for the unknown potential of prospects, rather than the known. Still, many mocks have seen Murphy rise from a mid-second-rounder to an option for late in the first round. He did just sign with an agent when he originally kept the option to go back to college. It's possible a team game him a first-round guarantee.

Washington doesn't have a second-round pick this year, but it is fairly common to see teams buy those picks as the draft night goes on. If he drops, perhaps the Wizards make a move. Even if the Wizards opt for a wing early, another 3-point threat would have a spot on the roster.