Former Iowa men’s basketball player Kris Murray selected by Trail Blazers in first round of NBA Draft

The 2023 first-team All-Big Ten forward was drafted No. 23 overall on Thursday night.


Matt Sindt

Iowa forward Kris Murray jumps to score during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 112-106. Murray scored 26 points and 4 assists.

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

The Murray twins have always shared basketball together.

From guarding each other one-on-one in their childhood home in Cedar Rapids to running the offense at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Keegan and Kris Murray have been inseparable, ‘built-in best friends,’ since birth. 

After Keegan Murray was selected No. 4 overall by the Sacramento Kings in the NBA Draft last June, he and Kris Murray spent the year over 1800 miles apart. While Keegan Murray went on to average 12 points per game with the Kings as the team advanced to the playoffs, Kris Murray remained in Iowa City for his junior season and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as the Hawkeyes qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Flash forward, and that distance just became a lot shorter.  

On Thursday at the NBA Draft, Kris Murray was picked No. 23 overall by the Portland Trail Blazers and will once again have a chance to play on the same court as Keegan, now his Western-Conference foe. 

On ESPN’s broadcast of the Draft, the network’s college basketball analyst Jay Bilas pointed out Kris Murray’s versatility, particularly highlighting his ability to be the ‘three and D’ forward that NBA teams covet. 

Even though Kris Murray never had an official workout with the Trail Blazers due to scheduling issues, he was still able to make a connection through the NBA Draft Combine and other off-court discussions. 

“Portland is excited to have me,” Kris Murray, who watched the Draft in Iowa City with friends and family, said in a press conference.  “They said they were running through the halls when they picked me. I am excited to meet everyone and get to Portland. I think it will be a really good situation for me.”

Portland finished last season 33-49 and 13th in the Western Conference under second-year head coach Chauncey Billups. The ’Blazers struggled on the defensive end last season, ranking just 28th in defensive efficiency and allowing an average of 117.4 points per game from opposing teams. 

Coming from a conference that prides itself in low-scoring games, Kris Murray is hoping to improve his future team’s reputation. 

“For me, I feel like I use my length well, I’m a good help-side defender,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working on a lot through this [draft] process … being able to contain my guy, being able to help the next guy.”

In spite of persistent trade rumors this offseason, it appears that All-Star guard Damian Lillard will remain with the Trail Blazers this season. Kris Murray got to know Lillard when he attended a camp Lillard hosted in Portland last August. 

“Kind of getting a feel for his game, the way he works out, kind of hit home with me,” Kris Murray said of his time with Lillard. “That camp really helped me in my mentality for the [2022-23] season.”

After averaging just 9.7 points per game in his sophomore season with the Hawkeyes, Kris Murray took the reigns of offensive production in his brother’s absence the following year. He averaged 20.2 points while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from beyond the arc. 

Kris Murray was Portland’s second pick of the night. The ’Blazers nabbed guard Scoot Henderson from the G League Ignite at No. 3 overall. currently has second-year pro Shaedon Sharpe as the Trail Blazers’ starting small forward. At 6-foot-8 220 pounds,  Kris Murray could also slot in at power forward, where ten-year veteran Jerami Grant holds the starting gig. 

“[I’m] a high IQ player … I’ve always been a winner, I think that’s just been in my blood,” Kris Murray said. “I’m someone who feels like I always have something to achieve, and that’s what shows up in the gym.”

The Murrays are not the only twins in the Association. Former Kansas standouts Marcus and Markieff Morris have been in the league since 2011, and on Thursday, Amen and Ausar Thompson made history as the first ever brothers to be selected top five in the same draft.

Even though they are not in the same division, the Murray brothers will play each other twice this season.

“We’re probably going to be a West Coast family now, so late-night basketball is going to be watched,” Kris Murray said.

The NBA and its teams typically release their schedules in August.