#3 / Forward / Indiana Pacers
May 02, 1980
Troy Murphy is next up for a player review. If you missed the earlier reviews, here is the group of players I reviewed prior to the start of any offseason maneuvering: Jeff Foster, Brandon Rush, T.J. Ford, Jrrett Jack, Roy Hibbert, Travis Diener, Marquis Daniels, Rasho Nesterovic.
How did Troy Murphy impress?
Troy Murphy is an easy target for critics.
He's a big man without a post game. He's not particularly quick of foot nor blessed eye-opening hops. Oh, and his salary exceeds $10 million a year thanks to a contract signed after early success had him pegged as a potential double-double machine in Golden State. A few years and several coaches later, Murph's production didn't match the expectations.
Even after producing big numbers this past season, I still hear the salary thrown about as a way to minimize Murph's value to the Pacers. Well, I'm sorry, but Murph played the role of a $10 million per year player in the 2008-09 season and only a biased analysis will tell you otherwise.
While he doesn't have the leaps or the overt athleticism, Murphy still managed to finish second among the league leaders in rebounds with 11.8 caroms per. So if you want to diminish Murph's ability then you have to laud the effort it takes to track down so many boards. The rebound numbers are so solid in large part for Murph's ability to haul in out of area rebounds which takes equal parts, talent, smarts and effort to anticipate where the ball is going and to then go after it like no one else is on the court. So he steals a rebound or three from his teammates in the same area, better to have two Pacers grappling over the ball than the opposition getting a free loose ball. Hopefully, Tyler Hansbrough will take notes and improve his ability to scoop up out of area rebounds like Murph.
Murphy also impressed with his scoring ability and three-point stroke last season. In fact, T3 splashed 45% of his trey attempts which ranked third in the league. With his diverse production, Murphy became the first player in NBA history to rank among the league's top five in rebounding average and three-point percentage. Those historical numbers also helped Murphy break a franchise record by logging 49 double-doubles for the season.
Yeah, I'd say Murph earned his money last season. Still not convinced? This tip alone will change your mind.
How did Murphy disappoint?
As with most of his teammates, Murphy's struggles at the defensive end were disappointing. While he can create a mismatch on offense by stepping out to knock down threes, he was often on the wrong end of a mismatch at the defensive end trying to handle stronger interior players.
In the Pacers team defensive approach, Murph wasn't the only weak link but was often the last line of defense while rotating to help. Unfortunately that help often ended at best in a foul to stop an easy bucket or at worst, well, the easy bucket.
This is an area of Murph's game that will always be an issue. He can certainly be a solid defender in a supporting role among a good team defense, but he won't be leading that charge and will always rely on others to do the heavy lifting at the defensive end.
One other quibble among the big rebound numbers is that less than 20% of those boards were gathered at the offensive end. Obviously, since Murph is normally stepping out to set up for a shot behind the arc he's not going to be in good position to hit the offensive glass. The only problem is, when your power forward isn't available to go after put back opportunities at the rim, then you will always be at a rebounding disadvantage.
Again, this is a minor quibble considering the type of role Murphy plays and the fact that the Pacers finished second in the league in rebounds with 43.7 per games. But with all of the close games that the Pacers dropped last year, every little thing counts and while the team's rebounding numbers were among the league's best, they also gave up 44.1 rebounds per game to their opponents, so that minor deficit is magnified when you think about one possession being the difference between a win or loss.
Murphy has two years left on that big contract and is certainly considered a bridge player, so trading him at peak value would be a smart move. Sounds great in theory, but what type of deal would entice the Pacers to move Murph? While Murph earned his money last season, the market for this season again has Murphy's salary outweighing his production. A team trying to shore up depth for a playoff run may find Murphy a perfect compliment late in the season and be willing to offer up some future assets that the Pacers can't pass up.
But dealing Murphy just to deal him would be foolish since he is such a great fit for Jim O'Brien's offensive plan of attack. The Pacers will desperately need that double-double production in the coming season. Roster changes have added more front court youth and an emphasis on defense in the back court. The Pacers under Jim O'Brien have never struggled to score but this season the team will rely on Murphy and the other designated scorers to consistently produce so everyone can focus their efforts on the defensive end.
|2008 - Troy Murphy||73||34.0||5.0||10.5||47.5||2.2||4.9||45.0||2.1||2.5||82.6||2.0||9.8||11.8||2.4||1.6||0.8||0.5||3.1||14.3|
#3 / Forward / Indiana Pacers
May 02, 1980