NBA Draft Profile: Tennessee Tech's Kevin Murphy

Like most people, Kevin Murphy had trouble stopping Murray State's Isaiah Canaan. Was his ability to score at will enough to improve his NBA draft stock?

As we mentioned when we talked about Wesley Witherspoon, this draft is lousy with wing players. Enter Tennessee Tech's Kevin Murphy, another of the breed.

Murphy gained national attention when he put up 50 points against SIU-Edwardsville, but is that alone enough to warrant drafting the undersized guard?

We look inside the numbers of this Ohio Valley Conference product and see what we can glean from a deeper review in our continuing series of 2012 mid-major NBA draft profiles.

BIO BLAST

School: Tennessee Tech (Cookeville, Tenn. | Ohio Valley Conference)
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Position: SG/SF
Height: 6-6
Weight: 185
Accolades: 2x All-OVC Tournament team, 2x 1st team All-OVC
Team Record: 66-62

Kevin Murphy was a scoring machine for Tennessee Tech in his four seasons, finishing with 2,019 points, good enough for 14th most in conference history. His performance ranked him in the top 10 nationally for scoring, and his name got out late in the year after he put up 50 points against SIU-Edwardsville in a conference game.

Perhaps someone should mention that the first time that the Golden Eagles took on SIU-Edwardsville, Murphy managed just four points in a dismal 1-for-16 shooting effort.

The average still looks good, but one game was much better than the others. He is currently projected into the second round as a combo wing, and should get a lot of looks in draft camps this month.

STATS

Final Season Averages:
20.6 pts... 2.3 asts...5.2 rebs...0.8 steals...3.3 turnovers..34.5 mins...44.4% FG...41.6% 3 PT...72.1% FT

Murphy's scoring ability has only improved in his four years in school. His range has deepened, peaking in his senior year when better shot selection saw him hit 41.6 percent of his 3-point shots, good enough for a top five finish in his conference.

If that wasn't enough, he contributed 2.3 assists, good enough for second on the team behind Zac Swansey (who was strangely ineffective with his overall numbers, registering a -0.40 HOOPWAR/30 games), and was second in rebounding with 5.2 per game (Jud Dillard 8.5).

So we know he could shoot, but did it really add that much value to the team? Probably not as much as you would expect from someone so prolific on the offensive end.

Murphy scored a 4.76 on the HOOPWAR/30 games scale, which wasn't even the highest on his own team. Dillard, who bettered Murphy's numbers on the defensive side of the ball, and was close to equal in terms of offensive prowess was better by almost a full two games (6.73).

Some of this is due to turnover numbers, which show Murphy having real trouble hanging onto the ball. Granted, he held the ball more than other members of his team, but 3.3 turnovers against the competition that Tennessee Tech played (not the best, not even out of conference, where the best game was against either Miami or West Virginia) is not a good mark.

The other part of this comes from shot selection, where Dillard is taking a lot more inside and is scoring at a better percentage than Murphy.

Not that a 4.76 is anything to sneeze at (considering how we saw some other draft prospects do). But you have to keep it in perspective that Murphy might not have even been the best player on his team (although Dillard may not have gotten the same accolades).


BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Strengths:
Murphy is a shooter, pure and simple. He has the ability to win the race for that first step and make his own opportunities on the offensive end.

In addition, he has improved his range and could be counted on at the NBA level to shoot the 3-pointer.

Weaknesses/Concerns:
The biggest knock against Murphy is his inability to contribute against top talent. He also has games against lesser opponents where he just disappears or doesn't have his shot. Instead of contributing in other ways at those times, he just keeps shooting.

But the biggest thing is turning it up against the best competition. He did play well against Murray State (19, 26 and 31 points in three games his senior year), and was a strong performer in the Portsmouth Tournament (where Kyle O'Quinn took home MVP honors), so it has been tamped down a bit.

He has a bit to learn about the game of basketball still, but has shown flashes of great instincts during his postseason workouts.

That doesn't mean he won't have to impress in order to dispel the stigma against him.

PROGNOSTICATIONS

Current Prospect Rankings
Chad Ford (ESPN): No. 38 (No. 8 at position)
DraftExpress: No. 40 (Projected 2nd round pick of Detroit Pistons)

Possible destinations:
DraftExpress feels that Murphy is headed to the Pistons in the second round, but there are no guarantees. Plus reports have surfaced that Detroit is also looking at Scott Machado, more of a true point guard, and the spot where DraftExpress has him pegged would be perfect for selecting the Iona guard.

If Murphy falls, there are landing spots with the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics and Sixers through the end of the second round.

His scoring ability is enough that he could also move up into the first round with an impressive workout for some team, but it really looks like the final 20 picks of the draft is a more realistic destination.

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