Mar 04, 2014 1:41 PM EST
Kevin Murphy was in Orlando preparing for his second Summer League with the Utah Jazz when he got the phone call.
“I was in the hotel and coach [Tyrone] Corbin called my room and told me to come into his room,” Murphy told RealGM. “That’s when he told me I got traded to Golden State.”
After spending his rookie season with the Jazz, Murphy was one of the final pieces of the three-team deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Bay Area. Murphy, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Tennessee Tech, had only logged a total of 58 NBA minutes and taken 28 shots before being shipped.
“Going in I knew it was a part of the business. It’s the NBA, you’re going to get traded sometimes and it’s just part of the game,” Murphy added. “I was just ready to get it started in Golden State and make me another opportunity for myself.”
He spent the Vegas Summer League playing sparingly for the Warriors’ squad, but was waived after the event. Only a year after being a second round pick, Murphy no longer owned an NBA roster spot.
Coming out of high school, Murphy was considered a steal for Tennessee Tech. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and chose the Golden Eagles due to the loyalty and commitment invested in him throughout the recruiting process.
He instantly made an impact at Tennessee Tech, playing in all 30 games during his freshman season and starting in 19 of them. He was named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer team after he averaged 9.6 points per game.
After successful sophomore and junior seasons where he averaged 15.3 and 17 points per game respectively, Murphy made national headlines during his senior year. He led the conference in scoring and was 10th in the nation at 20.6 points per contest. The biggest performance of the year was in a 98-80 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville where Murphy set the school’s single-game scoring record with a 50-point display on 16-of-21 shooting. It was the most points scored in Division I games during that season.
With all of his collegiate accolades, the Utah Jazz selected Murphy with the 47th pick of the NBA Draft. He was the third player from Tennessee Tech to be drafted and the first since 1993.
“It was like a dream come true,” Murphy said of the selection. “It was a dream come true for me, my family, and my wife. It was overwhelming.”
After being the primary scoring option throughout his collegiate career, Murphy rarely saw the floor in the NBA and spent 14 games in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns. He only appeared in 17 games for the Jazz.
Murphy was still optimistic of his season, saying, “It was a great experience being in the NBA, but it was all a learning experience as well.”
Without a guaranteed roster spot, Murphy was now one of the best players in the basketball world without a contract. He received offers to attend multiple training camps, but wanted to go to a place where he had a good chance of making a team.
“There wasn’t really a spot like that, where I felt I could go and make a team, so I didn’t want to go to training camp just to say I went to training camp,” said Murphy. “So I decided to go to France and make a little money.”
He signed a contract with the French team Strasbourg IG and averaged 7.6 points per game but started to “butt heads” with the organization. Murphy decided to come back to the States in December and was acquired by the D-League’s Idaho Stampede.
“It was the best interest to me to come back over here and train while I’m still young so I can stick with the main goal and have a good shot of getting back in the NBA,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do now.”
Murphy’s goal of returning to the NBA seems to be only a matter of time at this point. He’s averaging 26.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. He’s especially effective when utilizing a crossover to attack the rim or set up mid-range jumpers. Murphy is shooting 66 percent from inside the three-point line while his 36 percent clip from deep is no weakness either. The D-League’s website currently ranks him as the sixth best prospect in the league.
His production has been especially important with Idaho’s loss of Pierre Jackson. Without a call-up on the horizon, Jackson decided to play in Turkey as an attempt to make additional money for his family. He was averaging 29.1 points per game in the D-League and left a big void in the scoring column.
Since Jackson’s departure, Murphy is averaging 33.2 points per game on 52 percent shooting. The Stampede rattled off three straight wins before losing back-to-back games to the Santa Cruz Warriors.
“Me, Pierre, and Dee Bost had a good relationship on and off the court so we played really good together,” said Murphy. “Now with him gone, I think me and Dee Bost have stepped up pretty good to show teams that we can play the game of basketball. Everybody’s just trying to get an opportunity.”
When the opportunity does come, Murphy hopes to provide instant offense off an NBA bench. He’s working the hardest to improve on the defensive end.
“Teams already know I can score the ball, it’s just about being aggressive and showing that I can play defense and show that I can be a good defender at the next level,” he added.
At this point, Murphy has done basically all he can do to earn a 10-day contract in the NBA. He hopes to continue winning in Boise for the time being, but the obvious goal is to earn another chance in the NBA.
“Right now it’s just a waiting game basically, just waiting for the call,” said Murphy. “All I need is one team to like me. I’m just trying to wait for the opportunity.”
Jan 20, 2014 3:12 PM EST
RealGM will be compiling D-League Weekly Wrap-Ups for the rest of the season. Here’s our first edition, featuring a heavy dose of information compiled from January 12th to 19th.
RealGM’s Player of the Week: Rodney Bartholomew (Tulsa 66ers)
The 6-foot-8 forward from Indiana Tech had a breakout week in a pair of victories for the 66ers. Bartholomew had 32 points in each game along with a combined 32 rebounds on 26-of-37 shooting. He’s a high-energy power forward who gets most of his offense off of pick-and-roll situations. Bartholomew also attacks the offensive glass aggressively which showed in his 11 total offensive rebounds in two games. He may lack prototypical size for a power forward at the NBA level, but Bartholomew’s play this week earned him RealGM’s D-League Player of the Week honors.
Game of the Week: Idaho Stampede 119, Santa Cruz Warriors 118 (OT)
In a battle for first place in the West Division, it took an extra three minutes to decide this one. With the Warriors up by one and inbounding with 3.7 seconds left in overtime, Idaho’s point guard Dee Bost stole the in-bounds pass and heaved up a layup attempt that didn’t hit anything. It was then Reggie Hearn who caught the ball and finished with 0.7 left to win a wild one in Boise.
Bost led all scorers with 30 points to go with seven assists. Dallas Lauderdale had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while E.J. Singler chipped in an additional 23 points. Pierre Jackson did not have his best night, scoring 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting, but led Idaho with a game-high nine assists.
For Santa Cruz, Seth Curry finished with 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Daniel Nwaelele had 16 points while Golden State Warriors assignee Ognjen Kuzmic had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Ike Diogu (Bakersfield Jam): The 30-year-old with eight years of NBA playing experience averaged 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in three games for the Bakersfield Jam. Diogu shot 54 percent from the floor this week although Bakersfield lost all three of its contests. The 6-foot-8 stretch four can battle down low or knock down the mid-range jumper. The Arizona State product has had a good year for the Jam at the back end of his career.
Devin Ebanks (Texas Legends): One of the top prospects in the D-League, Ebanks averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 rebounds on 44 percent shooting in three games this week. His length and 6-foot-9 frame helps him on the defensive end as well. The small forward who spent the previous three seasons with the Lakers could be receiving a call-up before the season is over due to his defensive ability and improving offense.
Tiny Gallon (Delaware 87ers): Gallon averaged 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds on 64 percent shooting in four games this week. His highlight performance came against Sioux Falls on Saturday where Gallon finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds. A second round pick in 2010, Gallon never played in an NBA game and has struggled to find a fit at the professional level. He’s shown the ability to compete this month and his 6-foot-9, 290 pound body type makes him tough to guard down low.
Tony Mitchell (Fort Wayne Mad Ants): The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Alabama averaged 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games off the bench this week. Last year’s Rookie of the Year has shown his ability to get to the basket but will look to improve on his three point shooting. He was 5-of-11 from three-point range this week, but is 31 percent from behind the arc this season.
Sadiel Rojas (Fort Wayne Mad Ants): Rojas exploded for 36 points on 13-of-18 shooting and a 5-of-6 display from three-point range against Iowa on Saturday. He added an additional 10 rebounds to complete a double-double. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Oklahoma Wesleyan is averaging 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.
Chris Johnson (Rio Grande Valley Vipers): Johnson signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics on Friday. The 6-foot-6 wing from Dayton was averaging 19.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Vipers and had shown the ability to defend while being a glue guy offensively. He has not yet played a game for Boston.
Manny Harris (Los Angeles Defenders): After averaging 43 points on 60 percent shooting during his last three games in the D-League, the Los Angeles Lakers saw enough to sign Harris to a 10-day contract. He logged 40 minutes in two games with the Lakers and scored 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The 6-foot-5 combo guard from Michigan should provide some scoring off the bench that Lakers could definitely use.
Dewayne Dedmon (Santa Cruz Warriors): The 7-foot center had been a force in the D-League this season, averaging 15.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors. Dedmon spent the preseason and a short four-games with the NBA Warriors this year, but showed more potential than production. He rapidly developed in the D-League and showcased his defensive prowess to go with an improved offensive skill set. The Philadelphia 76ers signed Dedmon to a 10-day contract and he has immediately made a contribution. Dedmon has played 52 minutes in three games where he has scored a combined 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with 21 rebounds and four blocks. He could stick with the 76ers for the remainder of the season.
And One: Former lottery pick and Delaware 87ers point guard Kendall Marshall has been blossoming for a depleted Los Angeles Lakers squad since earning a call-up. The North Carolina alum has recorded a double-double in his last five games for the Lakers and is averaging 13 points, 12.2 assists, and four rebounds per game as a starter. The biggest concern about Marshall’s game before heading to the D-League was his scoring ability and capability to knock down threes at a consistent rate, but after working on his game Marshall has vastly improved in both areas. His 13 points per game as a starter are more than enough to earn him playing time due to his exceptional passing ability while he’s also shooting 47 percent from three as a starter. Marshall is the type of player the D-League was built for and his success at the next level is an encouraging sign for all players on this stage.
Apr 29, 2013 12:09 PM EDT
Like Dahntay Jones before him, Patrick Beverley became a household name for all the wrong reasons this season. Unfortunately, his role in knocking Russell Westbrook out of the playoffs overshadowed his breakout performance over the last week. Six months ago, he was playing in Europe, a second round pick who had been unable to crack an NBA roster. Now, at the age of 24, he’s a key member of a playoff team. When the Houston Rockets went small and inserted him into the starting lineup before Game 2, it changed the dynamic of their first-round series with the Thunder.
They still might be swept, but Beverley’s emergence is why any playoff series is valuable for a young team. In the playoffs, the cream rises. Jeremy Lin, in contrast, has struggled to stay on the floor, even before his chest injury. Beverley is a far better fit with Harden in the backcourt, and when adjusted for minutes played, their regular season stats were fairly similar. He could be the Rockets' point guard of the future, a tremendous coup considering how they acquired him. He’s the new poster boy for the benefits of mining Europe for talent as well as a walking embarrassment for every point guard-hungry team in the league.
While few NBA fans could have named him at the beginning of the season, Beverley didn’t come out of nowhere. He was a four-star recruit in high school, the No. 65 player in the class of 2006. In his freshman season at Arkansas, he was the leading scorer on an NCAA Tournament team. Unfortunately, his collegiate career was cut short before his junior season, when an academic scandal forced him out of school and sent him to play in Ukraine as a 21-year-old. He was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and was one of the last cuts in Heat training camp in 2010.
At that point, Beverley became another basketball vagabond. Every year, the college game churns out dozens of NBA-caliber guards, far too many for the NBA to absorb. A 7’0 with NBA-caliber athleticism will get opportunities well into his 30’s, but a 6’0 with NBA-caliber athleticism can easily slip through the cracks. Unless a guard is an elite scorer or distributor, their chance to stick often comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Beverley already had his chance; there was no guarantee he would ever get another. At the age of 22, he was yesterday’s news.
That rejection can ruin a young player’s psyche. Most never make it back from the NBDL or Europe, where they quickly become out of sight, out of mind. Beverley wound up playing with Josh Childress and Linas Kleiza on Olympiacos, one of the top teams in Greece. In 2011, he moved to a feature role for Spartak St. Petersburg. In 2012, he was named MVP of the Eurocup, a year-round competition between the top mid-tier teams on the continent. Beverley filled up his team's stat sheet -- first in points and steals, second in rebounds and assists -- and lead Spartak to the Eurocup Finals.
His time overseas served him well, both on and off the court. Due to his combination of length (6’6 wingspan) and footspeed, he was always an extremely intriguing prospect defensively. However, as a 6’1 combo guard coming out of Arkansas, he was a marginal NBA prospect. In Europe, he improved as a decision-maker and passer, almost doubling his assist-to-turnover ratio from his college days. Just as important, he was forced to mature, as unprofessional players have a hard time surviving the grind overseas. It can be a humbling experience, especially for guys who have been pampered in AAU and college.
Any team in the NBA could have had him at the start of the season, but only the Rockets pulled the trigger. Beverley is one of 20 different players they’ve used, as they’ve churned the bottom of their roster to find the right pieces around Harden. It’s a credit to both Daryl Morey, who has left no stone unturned to find talent, and Kevin McHale, whose been uncommonly willing to give unknowns a chance. McHale is the rare coach who will play rookies, D-League players and European free agents. He’s running a legitimate meritocracy in Houston, as opposed to the tenure-system used by many.
As a result, Lin’s job could be in jeopardy headed into next season. He has the brand name and the bigger contract, but Beverley is a better complement to Harden. A guard who plays next to the Rockets star has to be a good shooter and defensive player, two of Lin’s weaknesses and Beverley’s strengths. Per-36 minutes, Beverley averaged more rebounds, steals and blocks than Lin. He had a better assist-to-turnover ratio as well as higher shooting percentages. There’s room for both in Houston, but Lin would be most effective as a sixth man with the freedom to dominate the ball on their second unit.
Even if Beverley stays on the bench, his signing will have been a huge win for the Rockets. They found a quality 24-year old PG in the middle of the season while teams like the Mavericks brought in Derek Fisher and Mike James. Similarly, the Lakers have struggled for years with their lack of perimeter athleticism, but instead of actively searching for a solution overseas, they were content to use guys (Steve Blake, Darius Morris, Chris Duhon) they knew weren’t good enough. How much better would Dallas and L.A. have been this season with Beverley in the backcourt?
Far too many organizations are blinded by NBA experience. There are thousands of professional basketball players in the world; it’s hard to believe Fisher, Duhon and James are among the 450 best. Just as importantly, a player with five years of experience in the European leagues will be far cheaper than a five-year NBA veteran with similar ability. NBA teams are the same as any other company in modern America: why not take advantage of a globalized work force to cut labor costs? With the crippling luxury tax penalties in the new CBA, most won’t have a choice.
A decade from now, Beverley’s journey to the NBA may be closer to the norm. From Beverley to Alan Anderson, James Copeland, Gerald Green, Gary Neal and Pablo Prigioni, European free agents have proven they can hang with the best in the world. The European leagues are the perfect place for role players to develop: why take a chance on a 22-year old coming out of college or a 32-year old on the downside of his career when you can sign a 27-year old at his physical peak? There are a lot more Patrick Beverley’s out there, if only teams will open their eyes to find them.
Jan 11, 2013
Franchise relocation is a race to the bottom that pits city against city, which owners of all four major professional sports leagues in North America have used to their benefit.
Nov 13, 2012
There’s no bright line dividing proven NBA rotation players like Landry Fields and free agents playing overseas like Alan Anderson. For the most part, “NBA experience” isn’t worth the extra cost. Just as in tennis, the distribution of talent in basketball is pyramidal. The difference between LeBron James or Novak Djokovic and the #350 player in their respective sports is immense.
Jan 06, 2012
Like quarterbacks, quality big men are difficult to find. Here is a look on how the lack of strong frontcourt depth could harm teams like the Knicks and the Clippers in a compressed regular season.
Oct 12, 2011
The lockout will unquestionably damage the NBA, but not to the extent its fans fear or its detractors hope. There are several important reasons why it is so well-positioned in the long-term.
Jul 26, 2011
Many blamed the youth development system for Team USA's loss in the Women's World Cup. Those same arguments can be applied to the consequences of American basketball players raised on an AAU-dominated system.
Apr 27, 2011
While more money can be made in Europe, some current and former D-League players were pleased to receive the opporturnity to be seen by NBA scouts on a consistent basis and play in their home country.
Feb 01, 2011
Players who go to Europe rave about the opportunity to play at a high level while making good sums of money; unlike what is available in the D-League
Jan 27, 2011
RealGM is pleased to be releasing the initial, beta phase, of our new basketball website with dozens of brand new features.
Jan 14, 2011
Justin Dentmon starred with 38 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.
Jan 13, 2011
Cole Aldrich had 19 points and five rebounds in Tulsa's win over Dakota.
Jan 12, 2011
Shane Edwards, Anthony Goods, Brandon Costner and Chris Johnson had standout performances in Tuesday's D-League Showcase.
Jan 11, 2011
Jeff Adrien, Othyur Jeffers, Orien Greene and Dar Tucker had big days on Monday.
Basketball Wiretap Headlines