NBA Roundtable

Flip Murray

In Free Agency, General NBA on September 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Beware The Career Year

Last season Flip Murray had a career year in scoring efficiency. It wasn’t just his best season to date, it was by far his best season, unlike anything he’d ever produced before.

Check it out:

Year

eFG%

TS%

2003-04

46.2%

49.7%

2004-05

39.4%

43.3%

2005-06

44.2%

48.7%

2006-07

43.2%

47.4%

2007-08

44.7%

48.3%

2008-09

50.1%

54.3%

Career

45.3%

49.4%

Flip Murray pretty much shot five percent better on his eFG% and his TS%.

What about his other shooting stats?

Field Goal Percentage

Flip Murray shot 44.7% from the field last season. That was a career best number. His previous best was over two percent lower at 42.5% and his career rate is 41.8%.

Three Point Percentage

This is where Flip saw his biggest increase. His career rate stands at 30% after last season, and his previous best came the year before last in 2007-08 when he posted a 31.6% mark. Before that season Murray had never shot over 30% from three. Last season, Flip hit on 36% of his attempts from downtown.

Field Goal Attempts

Attempts wise he’s middle of the pack. He fired up his third most attempts per game (9.9) of his career, which is a little above his career average but that’s mostly down to minutes. If you go to his per 36 numbers, the figure is relatively a little lower but still middle of the pack.

Three Point Attempts

Between 2003 and 2006, Flip Murray attempted two to three triples a game. In the subsequent years, he only took 1.2 and 1.5 attempts from downtown. Last season, Flip was back up to three attempts per game. Since he was shooting at a good clip — 36% — this added a lot of efficient scoring to his name. Moreover, thirty percentage of Murray’s field goals came from downtown last season which is well above his career mark of 23.6%, which further increased his scoring efficiency.

Free Throw Attempts

2.9 a game and 4.2 per 36, which are both slightly higher than his career numbers but in the right ball park.

Free Throw Percentage

Murray knocked down 76% of his free throws last season. His previous best was 73.8% and he posts a career mark of 72.4%.

So, to sum it up, Flip Murray shot career best marks (1) from the field (2) from downtown, and, (3) from the stripe. He also helped his scoring efficiency by taking a larger than usual amount of three pointers per field goal attempt.

Any other notes?

If we look at Flip Murray’s shot breakdown over at 82games.com we also find out that:

Murray has played for six teams in the past four seasons including Atlanta, so the results are fairly scattered. To make things easier I’ll just give a summary on two types of shots — jump shots and interior shots.

Jump shots

64-71% of Murray’s total shots have been jump shots over his previous three years. Last season, Flip was slightly higher at 73%.

Since Murray moved around a lot and only played 350-to-1,000 minutes on four of those five teams, there’s a lot of difference in his effective field goal percentages. Three times Murray hit between 34% and 38% on his jumpers, and twice Murray went as high as 41%. Last season though, Murray hit an astonishing (for him) 46.1% of his jumpers.

Interior shots

In four of his five spots, Flip Murray took between 29-34% of his shots in the paint and in the other stop he took 36%. Last season, Murray took a career low number of 27% of his shots in the paint.

Murray’s eFG% were 54.1%, 56.1%, 56.8%, 57.4% and 58.8% on those shots. Last season, Murray once again went for a career high and knocked down 61% of his shots inside the paint.

Okay, so Flip Murray hit career rates on his jump shots which is unsurprising considering his career best mark from three point range + a career best mark on his interior shots too. He also took a slightly higher percentage of jump shots, and a slightly lower percentage of shots inside the paint.

Murray’s Game

Flip Murray is a below average passer and rebounder, but a solid defender. His main asset, though, has always been his ability to create off the dribble and get up shots. Unfortunately, for most of his career, that strength has worked against him because he’s been far too ineffective as a scorer to justify his other weaknesses.

Flip Murray is an old fashioned gunslinger. He hoists up 14.1 shot attempts per 36 minutes for his career, so despite having small-ish roles for most of his career he consistently finds a way to get up shot attempts. This is fine, good even, when Murray is hot and having one of his good nights. However, those nights were too irregular and the result left Murray searching for a new team year-by-year and often even changing teams midseason.

When a player is fairly one-dimensional like Murray is and when that main strength is scoring, it’s imperative that player is an efficient scorer. If that player can’t score efficiently then there’s no reason for him to be on the court, because no only is not contributing enough in other areas but he’s also doubling up on the problem and shooting his team out of the game.

Unfortunately, this is what Flip Murray has done for most of his career as he put up 48-49% true shooting percentages. But last season he went for 54%, around the league average, and suddenly his scoring ability became a true strength. This made Murray far more effective as an individual player, and in turn helped the Hawks improve.

Now, if Murray cannot repeat this success, then he’ll fall back into his previous station in NBA life as journey-man who cannot stick with a team and more often than not fails to make a meaningful contribution to the side.

Conclusion

Flip Murray had a career best mark in the following categories:

  • Field goal percentage
  • Three point percentage
  • Effective field goal percentage
  • Free throw percentage
  • True shooting percentage
  • Finishing in the paint
  • Jump shooting

Since Murray is a scorer first, foremost, and almost entirely … being that much more efficient made a massive difference to his on-court impact.

Three Thoughts

The Market

Flip Murray was one of the better backup guards in the NBA last season. Yet, despite being an unrestricted free agent and carrying a low price tag ($2mil), Murray hasn’t been able to get a firm offer. Clearly, every team in the league is concerned about Murray being unable to repeat last year’s performances.

Atlanta Hawks

One of the big reasons why Atlanta isn’t going to make a lot of ground (next year over last year’s squad) with the Jamal Crawford acquisition is because he’s replacing a very productive version of Flip Murray.

Crawford’s stats last year are similar to Murray’s, especially in relation to scoring — 18.6 points per 36 with a true shooting mark of 54% versus Flip’s 17.6 points per 36 with a TS% of 54% — but there are other differences. Both players over-dribble the ball on a regular basis, but Crawford is the more willing passer, and a good passer at that. Crawford is a fine secondary playmaker while Murray is a straight gunner. However, Murray is a capable defensive player while Crawford is a very poor defensive player. So Crawford has to out-perform Murray by a fair margin offensively just to break even ground with Murray’s performance from last year.

Clearly, there’s room for improvement here for Atlanta but Flip was quite successful last season and matched most of what you could expect from Crawford to produce … so I see the primary backup guard as a fairly minimal upgrade for Atlanta over last season’s production from Murray.

Flip Murray

I have no idea whether he’ll be able to replicate last year’s work or not. His numbers are frightening … but he is a very good risk to take for any team that has a weak backup point guard, because the upside there is very good.

Like I said earlier, Flip Murray was one of the better backup guards in the NBA last year and he made a very good contribution to the Hawks team. If he can keep it together, then he can help someone.

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