Looking Back: Shay Murphy in 2012

After Minnesota selected her with the 15th pick of the 2007 WNBA Draft, Murphy played 32 games with the Lynx as a rookie with a bright future. Over the next four years, however, she bounced around the league looking for a permanent home. She played for Minnesota, Detroit and Washington in 2008, joined the Indiana Fever partway into the 2009 season, was traded to Chicago midway into 2010, and joined the Sky halfway through the 2011 season.

With the security of knowing she’d be with the Sky for a full season this year, Murphy settled in and thrived with a consistency she hadn’t seen since her rookie year. She was often among the first to take to the court before games at Allstate Arena and work with coaches on her jumper. As a result, she honed an accurate long-range shot and became the league’s deadliest 3-point shooter among those who attempted more than 100 3-pointers in 2012. As the team’s best perimeter threat, Murphy nailed 44 percent of her shots beyond the arc and, along with Epiphanny Prince and Swin Cash, provided a balanced outside attack to spread opposing defenses.

Appearing in 29 games (three as a starter), Murphy was often the first player Sky coach Pokey Chatman looked to bring off the bench. As the team’s true sixth man, her 18 minutes per game were the most behind the starters. Murphy benefitted as a regular rotation player and turned in solid averages of 8.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. She torched the nets at a 42-percent clip from the field, delivering what would easily become the most prolific shooting season of her career. (Her next highest field-goal percentage came back in 2009 with Indiana, when she hit 38 percent of her shots.) With the familiarity and extra time spent learning the Sky’s offense, Murphy handled the ball with care, committing just 1.03 turnovers per game. Her turnover-per-minute ratio was the lowest on the team as she often made quick decisions, whether it was a spot-up shot or redirecting the passes for better looks at the rim. On the defensive end, she was often asked to cover some of the league’s best 2s and 3s as her combination of height and speed afforded her the ability to defend multiple positions.

Murphy often gave Chicago well-timed sparks off the bench and ignited rallies when the Sky was in need of a quick pick-me-up. She turned in numerous highlights throughout the season, including a memorable performance on September 16 when she lit up the floor with four 3-pointers en route to a career-high 22 points (including 20 in the first half) to help Chicago trounce Phoenix by 31 points. Her most well-rounded performance came on July 11 against San Antonio when she scored 20, grabbed five boards, and swiped four steals. She also unleashed a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards to go with four assists on August 24 at Tulsa. Murphy currently plays for Dynamo Kursk in Russia with Sky teammate Epiphanny Prince and former Sky teammate Michelle Snow.