Rookie seasons are all about growth.
How that growth takes place—and how briskly—varies vastly based mostly on the participant, group and scenario. Some rookies assume vital roles immediately and are capable of enhance by way of their expertise on the courtroom. Others discover themselves out and in of the rotation and should look to develop in numerous, much less glamorous methods.
This week’s rookie highlight focuses on a man within the latter class: Trey Murphy III. New Orleans drafted the 6-8 ahead out of Virginia with the 17th general choose this previous summer season. After transferring from Rice, Murphy III spent one season at UVA and impressed scouts together with his versatility, athleticism and out of doors taking pictures capacity, hitting 43 p.c of his 4.8 three-point makes an attempt per sport.
“He’s a man who picked up steam with our scouts because the 12 months went alongside,” Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon told reporters following the draft. “Transferred from Rice after his first couple years at school to Virginia and didn’t know an entire lot about him actually going into the season—clearly with the [covid] shutdown final 12 months after which him transferring. However as we began to research and assess completely different prospects, he was a man who our group grew more and more excessive on.
“Actually provides effort defensively and may actually shoot the ball,” Langdon emphasised. “Excessive character child with a excessive IQ, coming from a extremely, actually good program and needs to be coached exhausting—all these issues coming collectively match what we’re making an attempt to do right here very properly.”
Murphy III was on hearth through the preseason, averaging 17.5 factors on 53 p.c taking pictures from deep. His play earned him a spot in head coach Willie Inexperienced’s preliminary rotation. By means of October, because the Pelicans struggled immensely as a group, Murphy III continued to knock down threes at a excessive clip and confirmed flashes of his potential. Issues started to shift in November, although. Losses stored coming; pictures stopped falling with the identical effectivity; Murphy’s minutes regularly decreased. By the top of the month, he was seeing very restricted motion on most nights. Growth, thus, must occur elsewhere.
In fact, practices and exercises within the NBA will help rookies tremendously; however there isn’t a substitute for actual video games. The competitors, the physicality, the tempo, the depth—that’s the place development really happens, and the way guys are capable of keep in the perfect form doable. So when a rook falls out of the rotation, NBA entrance workplaces typically flip to the G League—a spot outlined as a “development laboratory”—for help.
Murphy III was assigned to the Birmingham Squadron—the G League affiliate of the Pelicans—for the primary time final Tuesday. He joined the group for shootaround within the morning, getting only some hours to acclimate himself earlier than his debut. To make abrupt transitions like that smoother, the Squadron run lots of the identical units because the Pelicans, and Murphy III seemed extraordinarily snug stepping proper into the beginning lineup. He performed an enormous function in a good 109-107 win, posting 18 factors, 8 rebounds and three blocks. He scored one of many largest buckets of the sport, too—with 40 seconds left, and Birmingham clinging to a 105-104 lead, the 21-year-old drove exhausting to his left and completed a tricky layup over 6-10 middle Tyler Davis.
“It’s simply enjoying basketball. It’s virtually like an open fitness center kind of setting—you don’t [normally] play with the blokes there,” Murphy III advised me afterwards, when requested about transitioning to the G League. “It’s additionally just like the NBA as properly—you may get traded in the future and people should not the blokes you’ve performed with, however you’re thrown into the rotation and also you’ve simply received to hoop. I’m grateful for it as a result of I received to get a bit of little bit of conditioning in, too. I haven’t been capable of play that many minutes  for some time. It was good to try this, for certain.
“I simply wish to play basketball,” he added. “On the finish of the day, that’s what I wish to do.”
He was briefly recalled to New Orleans after which reassigned to Birmingham six days later for a matchup towards the Memphis Hustle. In a blowout 119-97 victory, Murphy III did a bit of little bit of the whole lot, dropping 18 factors, grabbing 11 rebounds, doling out 6 assists (tying his career-high from school) and recording 3 steals. He attacked the paint sturdy and nailed 3/7 from behind the arc.
These sorts of performances are inclined to go missed. That kind of growth not often will get any recognition. Only a few followers tune in to the G League. Even fewer totally respect the worth of a participant’s expertise there.
It wasn’t as watched, or mentioned, or lined on social media, however Murphy III shined in his current time with the Squadron, and received higher within the course of. And that’s what rookie seasons are all about.