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Fantasy booking UVA basketball: Trey Murphy III starting at the two?

trey murphy uva clemson
Trey Murphy throws down two points as Virginia runs away from Clemson, 85-50. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

As it stands now, Trey Murphy III is at three, Sam Hauser at four. Reece Beekman is your two.

I’ve got a radical idea.

Actually, the radical idea was planted in my brain yesterday by reader Craig Bernick.

We were trading emails back and forth trying to solve the problems of the world.

No, actually, it was just UVA Hoops.

The world can fend for itself.

I was telling Craig about how, you know, I love me some Reece Beekman, but it’s all on his potential – which he will only fully realize once he develops a consistent jumper.

In the here and now, Beekman is a liability on the offensive end. The one thing he can do is get to the rim, but because that’s the one thing he can do, opponents game plan to sag off him to take that away and either force him to shoot from three or mid-range or move the ball.

His numbers on jumpers: 26.7 percent from three and 18.2 percent on two-point jumpers.

Which sounds bad, but the raw numbers are worse.

Beekman has made eight threes and two two-point jumpers (two! two!) this season.

If he was running point, he’d be Jontel Evans, i.e. still a liability on the offensive end, but at least you could justify it by having an actual perimeter threat at the two.

Kihei Clark is this team’s one, the guy who creates shots for everybody else, needs the ball in his hands to be able to do so.

Clark shoots 32.7 percent from three and 38.2 percent on two-point jumpers, so while nobody is going to confuse him with Kyle Guy, it’s harder for opponents to game plan just leaving him alone on the perimeter, which is what allows him to get into the lane to create.

OK, established, Clark is your point guard, Beekman should, at this stage in his development, be his relief on the second unit, because Beekman is emphatically not a two right now.

The other problem this team has: Tony Bennett’s favored offense, mover-blocker, relies on the four and five to set screens for the three guards.

The lineups of late have Murphy at three, Hauser at four and Jay Huff at five.

Hauser – 44.5 percent from three, with volume (5.7 attempts from three per game).

Huff – 41.5 percent from three, with decent volume (3.1 attempts from three per game).

Hauser and Huff are getting their looks from three after setting screens – pick-and-pops, by and large.

Murphy, of late, has found himself bottled up – he had just two shots from the field in the loss at Duke, and was just 1-of-5 in 19 minutes in the loss to N.C. State this week.

How much of that, I’m wondering, is because he’s the only guy among the three movers that you have to worry about?

I’ve been suggesting having Murphy come off the bench to head up the second unit, give it some punch, along the lines of what Bennett did back in 2014 with Justin Anderson.

Craig posed the question: what if you had Murphy at the two for a few minutes a night?

If the issue is Beekman not being a threat, that would seem to address the issue.

My reaction to seeing this: why just a few minutes a night?

How much would things open up for the UVA offense if it was Murphy and Hauser running off screens 30 minutes a night from Huff and, my fantasy booking deepening here, Justin McKoy, the guy I’d put at the four?

You can sag off Beekman, who has made a combined 10 two- and three-point jumpers all season, and focus on Murphy.

Can’t sag off either Murphy or Hauser running their guys into screens, flaring to the corners, curling into the lane.

You probably create more space for Huff on his pick-and-pops.

You get some chances at dives from McKoy – who, actually, small sample size, also looks to be able to knock down jumpers (he’s 38.5 percent on twos and 37.5 percent on threes).

What am I saying, small sample size: McKoy has made a combined eight two- and three-point jumpers this season in 162 minutes of floor time.

One every 20.3 minutes.

Beekman has one made jumper per 60 minutes of floor time.

My fantasy booking here is all about offense.

Thinking through the defense, you’d be asking Murphy, at 6’9”, to have to keep up with smaller guys at the two across from him.

Beekman, per Synergy Sports, is your best perimeter defender – allowing opponents 0.531 points per possession, rating as “excellent” in the Synergy rendering.

Murphy rates “good,” allowing 0.797 points per possession, largely guarding threes.

Can he guard twos for 30 minutes a game? Can Hauser chase around threes for 30 minutes a game?

McKoy – who rates “very good,” allowing 0.773 PPP – is an improvement at four on the defensive end.

This is why it’s called fantasy booking.

They don’t pay me millions to be accountable for what happens.

I’m just some schlub writing columns about basketball like I know anything.

But, this is my space.

If it’s me, Beekman is my first guard off the bench, spelling Clark, who can use some more time off the floor – he’s averaged 36.1 minutes per game over the past 10.

Get him down to 30-32, get Beekman 15-17 a night – running the team 8-10, partnering with Clark the rest of the time.

Try to squeeze 8-10 a night out of Casey Morsell, have Francisco Caffaro as your main guy off the bench in the post, get him 10-12 minutes a night.

Your starting lineup and death lineup is Clark-Murphy-Hauser-McKoy-Huff.

Well, again, mine is.

We should all get on Zoom, have a couple of drinks and argue this out.

Story by Chris Graham


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