It’s March 3rd and Pepperdine are facing off against Pacific to tip off the first round of the West Coast Conference (WCC) Tournament. Normally, this event would mark an incredible for both squads as they were both fighting for an opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament. However this matchup was different as the victor would have the unfortunate opportunity to compete against the unbeatable monster known as Gonzaga.
Although defeat definitely stood in their future, both squads still worked their butts off through the entire game. From the jump, things were competitive as both Pacific and Pepperdine were putting up the type of offensive numbers in ways that only West Coast squads can do.
Pacific shined due to the play of forwards Anthony Townes and Ray Bowles who combined to score 45 of the squad’s 89 total points. Alongside that, Pacific just stood as an efficient scoring machine as they shot an incredible 54% from the field and 54% from beyond the arc. That level of production was enough to give Pacific an 89-84 victory over Pepperdine. While Pepperdine was ultimately defeated during that early March competition, a member of their team still shined as the star of the event.
That Pepperdine star was 6’5 guard Lamond Murray who put on an incredible offensive performance against Pacific. In 39 minutes, Murray put up a career-high 41 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals on 13-26 from the field and 4-7 from beyond the arc. His terrific play against Pacific was just a loud and exciting example of how he played during his senior season at Pepperdine.
During his final season at the university, Murray averaged a WCC-best 21.4 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game on 48% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc. That fantastic production becomes even more impressive when you note that he maintained an impressive 56% True Shooting Percentage.
Murray’s ability to mix incredible volume with efficiency was due to his skill as a mid-range or perimeter shooter. From the moment you first lay your eyes on Murray’s jumper, you can quickly tell it’s a skill that he’s been working on since he was a young kid working on his craft in the same NBA arenas where his father spent twelve seasons. Those hours of practice has allowed Murray to be extremely confident in his jumper, whether he’s working off the dribble or around off-ball screens.
While he’s solid in both areas, Murray arguably does his best work when he’s working around off-ball screens. After working on it for four seasons, Murray has mastered the technique of working around an off-ball screen and quickly launching up a jumper down to a T. A prime example of Murray’s stroke is seen in the play below where he quickly works around the off-ball screen, receives the pass from the point guard and hits an 18-foot jumper without taking a single dribble.
In addition to how impressive it looks, Murray actually stood as the most efficient scorer in college hoops when it came to scoring around screens. According to Synergy Sports, Murray averaged 1.07 points per possession (PPP) after working around screen. That average puts Murray third in college basketball behind Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge (1.08 PPP) and Idaho’s Victor Sanders (1.12 PPP).
Coinciding with his ability to work around screens, Murray is also able to shine as an off-the-dribble shooter. While Murray doesn’t have the flashiest handles, he’s still utilize a classic step-back dribble to create the separation needed to launch up an open perimeter or mid-range jumper. Murray’s smooth step-back is seen below where he moves down the court in transition before moving back and nailing a mid-range jumper.
Although he stands as a solid mid-range and perimeter shooter, one of the main reasons why Murray stands as a relative unknown is due to how he really don’t show much as an on-ball cutter. In the handful of games that I watched, there were only a few instances where Murray took a defender off the dribble and actually finishing around the basket. Aside from those rare occurrences, Murray just looked uncomfortable when he even tried to work his way towards the rim when he’s working in half-court situations.
Outside of that flaw, Murray definitely shines as a player that should make his way to the NBA G-League next season. Standing at 6’5 and 200 pounds with a smooth mid-range/perimeter stroke, Murray’s game is reminiscent of James Nunnally as they both stand as big-bodied shooting guards that can shine on the defensive end. Of course, there’s a strong possibility that Murray can continue to refine his game and exceed the solid pro career that Nunnally has had.
Looking past those comparisons, Lamond Murray stands out as a player that basketball fans should keep their eyes on for years to come.