Both Paolo Banchero and Keegan Murray earn second consecutive Rookie of the Month awards
Both Paolo Banchero and Keegan Murray have been awarded the NBA’s Rookies of the Month for the second time in a row this past month of January, further proving their case to contend for the year’s title for best young player during regular season.
The No. 1 overall pick has continued to shine during his rookie season having started in 14 games during January, and averaging 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists. and 1.29 steals, in 32.7 minutes per game. And these performance’s have been going on ever since the campaign started, as he leads all NBA rookies in scoring and minutes played, while ranking second among Eastern Conference rookies in rebounding and third in assists.
If we compare Banchero to the rest of the league, he ranks 40th in scoring. Orlando’s power foward has scored 20+ points 27 times and 30+ points four times this season, the most of any NBA rookie.
20-year-old Banchero becomes the third player in Magic’s history to be named the league’s Rookie of the Month in consecutive months, joining Mike Miller and Shaquille O’Neal, who back in the day recorded four-straight months in the 1992/93 season.
Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray and Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero have been named the Kia NBA Western and Eastern Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in January. pic.twitter.com/X1oBB2Fjsd
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) February 2, 2023
As for Keegan, last Draft’s No. 4 overall pick, he has finally found himself on court after a slow start to the season. Actually, he just keeps getting better and better, as this past month he improved all his stats in comparison to his December performances, which also earned him his first award ever as an NBA athlete. Murray averaged 14.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 29.7 minutes during January. The 22-year-old is now the fourth Sacramento player to win Rookie of the Month in two consecutive months.
As the Kings were victorious nine times (in 15 games) this past January, the young forward is quickly becoming a key asset to Sacramento’s success as the team ranks 3rd in the Western Conference and appears to be on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The thing is, Murray’s impact on the court can’t be described only by his stats. His presence on the floor shows more every game, as he is growing and confidence and proved his versatility and new-found aggresiveness are now instrumental in Sacramento’s playing culture.
His head coach Mike Brown agrees more than anyone, as he is famously known to be a defensive-minded strategist and he admires the rookie’s defensive support. “He doesn’t have the freedom to play through a ton of mistakes,” Brown said in press conference after the Kings’ 119-109 win over the San Antonio this week.
“I’m on him for every single little mistake that he makes. It’s not to say that other coaches aren’t on their rookies, but they’re going to let their rookies play through their mistakes,” he continued. “We’re trying to win now. We feel like we have the guys to win now, so he’s got to play at a high level in order to stay there and contribute which says a lot to the season he’s having as a rookie, that’s what makes it special.”
Mike Brown explains what has made Keegan Murray’s rookie season special 🙌 pic.twitter.com/8sWki0KuA9
— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) February 2, 2023
Both players will headline this month’s Jordan Rising Stars in Salt Lake City
Just two days before getting back-to-back Rookie of the Month awards, both Murray and Banchero were selected for the 2022-23 NBA Rising Star. They will lead the 28 rookies chosen to participate, as well as play against the sophomores and G League prospects announced for the All-Star Weekend in Utah.
This league’s annual showcase of its young talent will be coached by Lakers former star Pau Gasol to led his side in the mini-tournament of the Rising Stars. The Spaniard, who is a six-time All-Star participant and two-time NBA Champion, will share his responsabilities with Joakim Noah (two-time All-Star) and Deron Williams (three-time All-Star).
The 72nd Annual All-Star Weekend will be celebrated from February 17th to the 19th in Salt Lake City.
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