Two of the top picks in the NBA draft in June will square off when the Kings play their Las Vegas Summer League opener against the Orlando Magic at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Orlando selected Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 draft pick. Sacramento selected Keegan Murray with the No. 4 pick. Now the two will meet in one of the marquee rookie matchups on Weekend One in Las Vegas.
Both were considered two of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. Both have had a taste of summer league competition before.
Murray led the Kings to a 3-0 performance at the California Classic with blowout wins over the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Banchero led the Magic to a 91-77 victory over third pick Jabari Smith Jr. and the Houston Rockets Thursday on opening night in Las Vegas.
The Kings enter as defending champions after winning 5-0 to claim their second Summer League title from Las Vegas in 2021. In order to return to the championship game, Sacramento will need to go through the Magic, Indiana Pacers , Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns.
Their quest begins with Banchero, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound forward from Duke who put up big numbers against the Rockets. He finished with 17 points, four rebounds, six assists and a steal, going 5 of 12 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3-point range and 5 of 5 from the free throw line.
Murray, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward from Iowa, was even better in his debut, an 86-68 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at Chase Center in San Francisco. He posted 26 points and eight rebounds with zero turnovers in 28 minutes. He made 10 of 14 field goal attempts, 4 of 5 3-pointers and both of his free throw attempts.
Banchero, 19, was long projected as a top-three pick, but became Orlando’s No. 1 pick in the final hours before the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks as a freshman at Duke last season.
Murray, 21, had a stellar second season at Iowa, where he averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals. He shot 55.4% from the field and 39.8% from 3-point range, becoming one of the top two-way talents in the nation.
Murray was a finalist for the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award along with Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky, Ochai Agbaji of Kansas and Johnny Davis of Wisconsin. The award went to Tshiebwe, but many analysts felt that Murray was the best player in college basketball.
The Kings picked Murray at No. 4 over Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, who had 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting with six rebounds, six assists and five turnovers in the Detroit Pistons’ 81-78 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday. . Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 7 pick in the draft, logged just six minutes before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
Another highly anticipated rookie game comes Saturday when Smith leads the Rockets against second-choice Chet Holmgren and the Thunder. Holmgren had 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and four steals against the Utah Jazz in his Salt Lake City Summer League debut on Tuesday.
The Thunder chose to rest Holmgren in Thursday’s 80-79 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Salt Lake City, but he is expected to be available in Las Vegas. The Kings will face the Thunder on Wednesday.
This story was originally published July 8, 2022 12:46 p.m.