Trey Murphy III and the New Orleans Pelicans seem like a match made in heaven, at least at this early juncture of the NBA preseason anyway. In his first two games as a professional, Trey Murphy has shot 12-of-19 from beyond the three-point line and finished his most recent game as the top scorer.
As the 17th pick in the 2021 NBA draft, Trey Murphy III is already proving to be a steal, and the New Orleans Pelicans look like genius's for snagging him as part of their big off-season trade.
With Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram the team's bona fide stars, and neither of those players being known for their three point prowess, Trey Murphy III may find himself getting valuable rotation minutes right off the bat.
Against the Orlando Magic, Trey Murphy III also displayed an ability to put the ball on the floor and attack close-outs, with one of his finishes at the rim flashing what his complete scoring packing could look like further down the line.
In the modern NBA, the transition three is an invaluable asset to have - and the threat of that shot forces defenses to abandon the "build out to the ball" philosophy. When a defense has to focus on nullifying a transition three, it creates space behind the perimeter, space that can be exploited - especially when there's a trailing forward such as Williamson bouldering his way through towards the rim.
Oftentimes, a player's success comes down to more than just their skillset, it's about "fit" and how each player's presence accentuates his teammates abilities. Trey Murphy III fits directly into this conversation
Last season, the New Orleans Pelicans finished 26th for a three-point percentage, and that's not going to get the job done when your two best players are rim and mid-range threats. You need the spacing three point shooters provide, to allow your interior threats to operate, otherwise defenses will clog the paint or blow up an offensive scheme by running zone.
Hence why Trey Murphy III's performances are generating so much hype, this is a young man that has already shot lights out in his first two professional games. The off-ball movement, and understanding of when to sink, cut, curl, or relocate emphasizes the young forward's understanding of NBA spacing and his role within it.
Should Trey Murphy III earn himself a starting role over the next two preseason games, it will be interesting to see what position his minutes come at. If Willie Green is already toying with the notion of adding a sharpshooting rookie to the starting line-up, it would make sense to start giving him reps in the position he can expect to play.
One would assume that Brandon Ingram would slide down to the shooting guard position, and Trey Murphy III would slot in at the small forward slot. Otherwise, Zion Williamson would need to operate as a small ball five all season, and that poses a plethora of problems on both ends of the floor. Not to mention that before leaving the game with two technical fouls, Jonas Valanciunas was a vital part of the New Orleans Pelicans offense, and will almost certainly command that starting role once competitive games get underway.
Regardless of if Trey Murphy III tastes starting action for the New Orleans Pelicans during preseason, there will undoubtedly be numerous opportunities for him to slide into the starting lineup during the regular season. The shot looks legitimate, and while a bigger sample size is needed before doubling down on that statement, the New Orleans Pelicans were in dire need of a floor spacer and have found one on a cost-controlled contract for the next few seasons.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are sure to continue improving their own games, and will likely be working towards consistent outside shots (mid-range for Williamson, baby steps) but you can never have too many shooters, especially ones who can put the ball on the floor to attack close-outs.
Sure, Trey Murphy III is a raw prospect, and he will need to pack on the muscle if he wants to get any consistency when driving the lane. But in terms of what the New Orleans Pelicans need, and what Trey Murphy III brings to the table, you couldn't envision a better landing spot for the young rookie.
Next up on the New Orleans Pelicans' preseason schedule is the Chicago Bulls, where all eyes will be on Trey Murphy III and whether he can continue to shoot the ball so well across the perimeter.