Get to Know Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy Before Everyone Else

Posted by Chris Hatfield on November 28th, 2017

Who expected this? Certainly not the media members who failed to vote for Minnesota junior forward Jordan Murphy on any of their preseason All-Big Ten teams. Probably not Richard Pitino, the head coach who talked often — and usually glowingly — about stalwarts Nate Mason, Isaiah Washington and Amir Coffey during the preseason, but not Murphy. Certainly not myself, who picked the Gophers as a Final Four team in the preseason, but did not believe Murphy would be a leading reason why.

Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy Has Been a Star This Season (USA Today Images)

Despite all that, Murphy’s name is slowly becoming more familiar across the college basketball landscape. The 6’6″, 250-lb. power forward isn’t on many mock NBA Draft boards because of his undersized frame, but if he continues to dominate everything in his path, he will find his way there too. He is averaging a double-double (22.0 PPG, 12.3 RPG) and has been consistent in his output, logging seven double-doubles in seven games — something even Duke standout freshman Marvin Bagley hasn’t accomplished. He’s also currently the second most efficient player in college basketball with a 37.9 efficiency rating, according to Sports-Reference, trailing only Notre Dame’s Bonzie ColsonThere are few individual statistical categories in which he is not within the national top five, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He’s been everything the Gophers have needed and more than they could have ever wanted.

Efficiency is His Calling Card

Murphy is making an astounding 93 percent of his shots at the rim. Multiple easy dunks and layups per game contribute to this but it also shows that he has a very nice touch around the basket. College basketball is littered with athletes across front lines, but few ever reach that level of a conversion rate.


In what has become commonplace for Minnesota this season, Murphy often has spurts of game action where his superior athleticism allows him to take over the game. In one respect, these are ordinary plays. However, they also show just how difficult of a mismatch he is for his opponent every night. His agility for such a bulky player is rare among college basketball players.

Underrated Strength


Lost in discussion of Murphy’s athleticism and agility, analysts often forget to also mention his strength that in a lot of ways makes up for his height. It’s difficult to quantify strength on the basketball court, but his 17 putback dunks on the season (according to Hoop-Math) lead to a conclusion that his explosiveness combined with a keen ability to power through contact (with no lost movement in between) has something to do with it.

Pie charts are cool. This visualization shows the percentage of college basketball players taller than Murphy who have finished among the top five players in rebounds per game over the last 10 years of college basketball. Pretty clear, right? Murphy currently ranks fourth in this category. There is no denying that his aptitude in timing his jump accurately to capture a rebound is a big part of his total, but his complementary strength in ripping the ball away from the hands of his opponents plays a large part in that metric as well.

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