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2021 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Trey Murphy III

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Virginia at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Peachtree Hoops is working on a series of prospect scouting reports ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft. Today, we look at Trey Murphy III out of Virginia. For a look at the full list of prospect profiles we have done to date, click here.


One of the most interesting prospects in the draft from an evaluation standpoint, Trey Murphy III used a single season at Virginia to break out as a more versatile player than he demonstrated during two prior seasons at Rice.

Murphy is going to get labelled as the classic 3&D prospect until he can show enough in other phases to bring attention to his other raw skills. But, all too often, the D part of 3&D is overly simplified when talking about any individual player.

Before breaking down his game a bit it’s critical to explore what he offers, at the moment, as an athlete. Despite being 21 years of age it’s only been in the last year or so that he started to look like he might possess the athleticism to defend on ball at the next level and to defend potentially at three, if not four, positions. And that’s all about his physical development.

By all accounts he really didn’t start working on his body until he landed in Charlottesville. And last season his vertical athleticism really started to pop.

He elevates to the rim for dunks in an incredibly effortless manner. An example:

Another:

He also started to look like a defender that can contain at the point of attack using his ability to get into a stance and slide with the ball handler. A quick look at that part of his game:

Measuring at a height of 6’7.5 (without shoes) and a wingspan of nearly 7’1, Murphy’s defensive potential is going to, presumably, be what suggests to NBA teams that he could offer solid value as a player that can impact both ends of the court.

He puts his length to work as a defender on this possession:

And here, he functions as the single defender on the weak side of the play, is able to pull in very near the lane, manage all of the space on his side of the floor, and mirror and close out on his man:

This is a pretty nuanced area of defensive play, but this is pretty rare stuff.

It would be a bit more encouraging is he ever showed a flash of straight line speed. But given the developmental path he has taken to this point one wonders if that will come simply as a result of getting into a professional training environment.

He measured at, likely, a higher than expected body fat percentage at the NBA combine but still posted impressive results in both the standing and max vertical leap. Simply put, the speed and quickness, and strength to a lesser degree, could come rapidly for him as the sport continues to move past it’s COVID-19 environment (no more limited workout opportunities) and he gets to work with an NBA sports medicine staff.

Murphy has a skill set that can be immediately applied in an NBA setting. But if he is just starting to tap into a new level of strength and athleticism, it could change everything in terms how NBA teams project him as a prospect.

The shooting is going to be what gets Murphy onto the floor for an NBA team in pretty quick fashion. He shot better than 40% from the three-point line in his collegiate career on a volume of more than 400 attempts.

The form is pristine and the motion is effortless.

NBA teams will love that ability to work as a screener and then pop above the three-point line as an extremely reliable shooter.

He’s quite a bit better shooting off of the catch than off the dribble. But that’s shouldn’t be surprising because he’s just not that advanced of a ball handler yet.

The impact of his lack of ability to deploy a basic step-back can be seen here:

However, his raw set of collective pass skills reflects a baseline from which developmental progress can be reasonably expected.

Even if he hasn’t shown an ability to attack bigger, slower defenders with his dribble:

Murphy is an incredibly cerebral player, maybe too much so at times, and a trustworthy decision maker who is clearly advanced in various nuanced areas of the game. He is constantly directing traffic on offense, even though he doesn’t usually possess the ball that much. And he helps keep bodies moving on the weak side of the floor with his tendency to be a step ahead of every one else on the court.

He doesn’t often make mistakes on defense. But the Tony Bennett defensive system has long been famous for a low volume of individualized risks. Still, he was more than solid from an assignment standpoint throughout his season with the Cavaliers.

Most outlets project him to be drafted in the latter third of the first round. But he’s a bit of an outlier prospect with a fairly NBA-ready skill set and athleticism that could be on the verge of exploding with even a little bit of work in an NBA setting.

In contrast to the numerous players in the draft class with tantalizing upside and a less polished set of basketball skills, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him be the Cam Johnson of this group moving up into the latter half of the lottery.