Murphy Provides Rare Consistency
Saying that the Indiana Pacers have been inconsistent this season would be an understatement. In fact, their roller coaster ride of a campaign has been well-documented -– just check the archive to the left of this piece.
Prior to his knee and foot injuries, Danny Granger was the lone picture of stability in Indiana. But in recent weeks, another member of the team has stepped up as the most reliable force on the court.
Troy Murphy, the "overpaid" forward that the Pacers acquired from the Warriors a little more than two years ago, is having the best season of his eight-year career.
He's averaging a double-double (13.8 points and 11.8 rebounds) for the fourth time in his career, and ranks third in the NBA in that category.
Murphy has 37 double-doubles in his 57 games this season, behind only New York's David Lee (48) and Orlando's Dwight Howard (47). Howard started for the Eastern Conference All-Star team last month, while Lee's name was mentioned by many as a reserve candidate.
Murphy's name was barely whispered.
It's not hard to imagine why Murphy has avoided the spotlight despite a stellar year. The Pacers were 26-36 after an upset win over the Nuggets on Sunday night and although they stand just three games out of eighth place, injuries to Mike Dunleavy (knee; done for the season) and Granger have made a playoff run highly unlikely.
Murphy, who attended nearby Notre Dame, also ranks fourth in the NBA in rebounds per game, behind Howard, Marcus Camby and Lee. His numbers in the month of February, were hard to ignore -- 18.5 points and 12.8 boards, while shooting 51.3% from the field and 45.5% from three-point land.
Lee and Howard have been praised for recording their double-doubles through three quarters, or even the first half, but Murphy has had his fair shares of "halfies" as well. On Sunday night, he reached the milestone well before halftime against Denver.
What's even more impressive than his standing among the NBA's leaders in double-doubles is the talent below him on the list.
Top Ten Double-Double Producers
1. Lee, New York – 48
2. Howard, Orlando – 47
3. Murphy, Indiana – 37
4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio – 35
5. Chris Paul, New Orleans – 35
6. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte – 31
7. Antawn Jamison, Washington – 30
8. Al Jefferson, Minnesota – 30
9. Deron Williams, Utah – 29
10. Chris Bosh, Toronto – 28
Taking those ten players out of the context of that list, there's no way 99 out of 100 people list Murphy in the same sentence as guys like Howard, Duncan, Paul, Jefferson, Williams and Bosh.
Murphy ranks pretty high in efficiency numbers this season as well.
He's fifteenth in the league in terms of total FIC (Chris Reina's Floor Impact Counter), with an FIC per 40 of 17.7. That is better than Lee, Rajon Rondo, Bosh, Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Yao Ming, Andre Iguodala, Amare Stoudemire, Devin Harris, Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce.
I think you get my point.
He also has a Reina Value of +49%, which essentially means that he deserves to earn more than what the Pacers are paying him this season ($10M+), which happens to be an amount that many people consider to be too high. Fifty-five players are paid more in the NBA right now, but only fourteen have been more productive according to FIC totals.
In addition to mentioning his salary, Murphy's critics often point to the forward's penchant for battling teammates for rebounds. Here's the thing: wouldn't you rather have a player battle for every rebound than concede to a teammate that might not end up grabbing the miss?
You don't think Lee, Howard and Camby often jump for the same rebound as their teammates in New York, Orlando and Los Angeles, respectively?
Murphy is better on the defensive glass than on the offensive end, due in part to his ability to step out of the paint to knock down a three, but he's still among the best in the league in terms of rebounding percentage.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Murphy grabs 19.4% of the rebounds available when he's on the floor. That's fourth to Howard, Camby and Andris Biedrins.
Murphy has also lightened up Indiana's locker room, perhaps with stronger personalities elsewhere this season.
He's contributed a blog to Pacers.com, admitted his desire to become a wedding planner, sported a thin eighties mustache, and even maintains his own Facebook page.
Even better than that?
He's provided the Pacers with consistency, something they have consistently lacked this season.
Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com and co-host of RealGM's Radio Show. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com
I am happy to see Troy getting his due this season . He has been our most consistant player , and imho is a KEY cog in the future of this Pacers team ..