Player Review: Troy Murphy
Stats: 12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 apg
Stats/36: 15.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.8 apg
How did he surprise?
Troy Murphy entered the 2007-08 season as a wild card. Hopes of regaining the double-double production from earlier in his career seemed a bit optimisitic after his struggles to finish out the '06-'07 season. But, with his ability to knock down the open 3-ball from the power forward slot, Troy Muprhy figured to emerge as a solid contributor within Jim O'Brien's preferred style of play.
Throughout the season, Murph's production fluctuated along with his role as JOB worked to find playing rotations that worked while juggling injuries to key players. After being pushed out of the starting lineup in January, it was real nice to see Murph take the pro route and remain prepared when his number was called again. Injuries opened up the opportunity for Murph to start again and he took advantage.
Eventually, Murph settled into his role within the rotation and his production leveled out. Over last two and a half months of the season Murph's could be counted on regularly, including a stretch where he put up double-figures scoring in 25 of 26 games. While he no doubt struggled to defend certain matchups, he brought plenty of fire to the court, never backing down from contact around the hoop. Also, Murph does a nice job pushing the ball up the court after a rebound. He snaps a nice overhead outlet and can take a couple of dribbles to free up a passing lane to push it. These are critical little plays when the team is trying to push the pace.
How Did He Disappoint?
An Achilles strain put Murph behind to begin the year and it seemed to take him half the season before he found a consistent niche within JOB's system. He'd have one game on, hitting a few 3-balls or grabbing double-digit rebounds but then would have two or three games where he wasn't much of a factor at all.
Fortunately, the disappointment was washed away with the Murph's solid finish to the season when the playing time was plentiful and JOB knew just how he wanted to use the lefty launcher. Speaking of launching, Murph does tend to be streaky and some nights you can tell the stroke just isn't there and the front iron is unkind.
Heading into last season, Murph and his contract seemed to be a huge weight around the neck of the franchise. With three years left at $10.1, $11, and $11.9, that weight doesn't seem so heavy. There is a role on this team for Murph, and sure his salary may not match the production, but that doesn't mean the Pacers should treat him differently and force him into a more prolific role that he can't fulfill.
There' great value in the Pacers knowing what they have in Murph, what to expect and how to employ his talents. My only concern at this point is health concerns as Murph seems to play hurt quite a bit and those nagging injuries could turn to something more serious down the road.
Assuming he is healthy, though, Murph just turned 28 and is heading into his prime playing years, able to mix in veteran savvy with his ability to score and rebound. That combination makes Murph and versatile and intriguing piece to the Pacers' puzzle for next season.