It was a story of diverging fortunes as two young Husky stars awaited their fate in the 2016 NBA Draft. For PF Marquese Chriss it was a whirlwind. For PG Dejounte Murray it was what might have been.
Chriss became UW's eighth first round pick to go drafted in the Lorenzo Romar era and just the fourth player, joining Spencer Hawes (10th overall), Brandon Roy (4th), and Terrence Ross (8th), to go in the top 10 of a draft. Drafted by the Sacramento Kings 8th overall, Chriss was promptly traded to the Phoenix Suns. Compared by many to former Phoenix Suns great Antonio McDyess, Chriss is projected to be that athletic, end-to-end, shot-blocking big man who could create a lot of chaos as a defender and as a transition scorer. Chriss will be expected to contribute right away to a Suns team that does not currently have a Power Forward under contract.
Unlike Chriss, Murray's dreams didn't quite materialize as he had hoped when he opted to join his more heralded classmate in declaring his eligibility earlier this year. Sitting in the green room proudly wearing a bright purple suit, Murray suffered through the indignity of having to watch hopes of a lottery selection pass him by. He nearly had to endure dropping out of the first round altogether until the second-to-last pick by the San Antonio Spurs. The biggest gut punch for Murray, perhaps, was the selection by Indiana at #20 of SG Caris Levert. Levert has suffered serious injuries during his career at Michigan State.
As it is, Murray may have ultimately ended up in a great situation with the Spurs. While Baby Boy is known more for his 29% FG rate and his 20% turnover rate, his athleticism, his defense and his rebounding prowess from the backcourt should afford him the opportunity to occupy some kind of role on one of the true dynasties in the NBA. For him to be ensured a pro contract while given the opportunity to develop his rather glaring holes in his game is a situation that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Murray.
The selection of two Husky basketball players in the first round of the NBA Draft has happened only one other time in history. In 2013, both Ross and G Tony Wroten were selected by the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
The precipitous drop of Murray was an experience shared by a couple of other true freshman early declarees who, like Baby Boy, thought that they would go closer to the top 15 than the second round. Other green room participants Skal Labissiere of Kentucky and Deyonta Davis of Michigan State also had to wait with both players projected in different forums as possible top 10 picks.
The fall of players like Murray and Davis is sure to renew the debate about the overwhelming and, in the opinion of many, unfair pressure put on players who may not yet be ready for the NBA game to declare for the NBA Draft.
Both players will make their pro appearances in the NBA Summer League starting July 8th. Follow the pro journeys of both former Huskies on their respective SB Nation blogs:
Phoenix Suns and Marquese Chriss: The Bright Side of the Sun
San Antonio Spurs and Dejounte Murray: Pounding the Rock