The Cleveland Cavaliers will likely have the ninth pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 26th. Today, we profile Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Doug McDermott
International Team: Creighton
Weight: 223 lbs.
Honors: 2012, 2013, 2014 All-America 1st Team, Two-Time Missouri Valley Player of the Year, 2014 Big East Player of the Year, Fifth on NCAA Career Scoring List, 2014 Naismith Award Winner
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 26.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 52.6 field goal percentage, 44.9 percent from three, 86.4 percent from the line
Doug McDermott is the most decorated player entering the draft this year. He’s one of the NCAA’s best scoring options ever, and a three-time 1st-team All-American. Every couple of years, a player like McDermott seems to come through the draft, and NBA people struggle to figure out what to make of him. Having watched McDermott play big minutes for four years, you would think we would have a good grasp of what he’s going to be able to do at the next level; however, opinions are split about him. McDermott could have a very successful NBA career, thanks to his elite shooting ability and basketball IQ. He could also wash out very quickly thanks to a lack of athleticism and defensive ability. So which path of the elite college player will he follow? Will he be like Stephen Curry, and develop tools around his elite skills to become a star? Will he be gone in five years like Adam Morrison? Or will he fall somewhere in the middle, and ride an elite skill into a long, productive career as a role player, like J.J. Redick?
If there’s any area where the deck might be stacked against McDermott, it’s his physical profile. From an aesthetic perspective, Mr. McBuckets does not look the part of an NBA player. He’s not that quick, has a below-average wingspan, and his vertical jump is nothing special. This is where many of the concerns surrounding McDermott stem from. If his vertical leap isn’t impressive, and he doesn’t have length to compensate, how will he match up against a guy like Tristan Thompson, much less Blake Griffin or Serge Ibaka at the next level?
However, McDermott does appear to have some athletic capabilities that should help him at the next level. For one, McDermott may have some deceptive quickness, particularly in transition, where he is excellent at getting out in front of defenders and getting in position to make plays at the rim. This is also important for his defense, where he was at least able to be a mild obstruction on the perimeter. It’s also difficult to tell how strong he is, exactly. He gets out-muscled in the post fairly easily, and can get pushed around by more athletic forwards on the glass. However, he finishes at the rim at an elite rate, which paired with his high free throw rate (Around 10 FTAs per game), suggests the strength to be able to finish in traffic well. I think the Draft Combine is going to be huge in the evaluation of McDermott as an NBA prospect. Even if his vertical and wingspan are poor to mediocre, if McDermott performs well in the bench press and the ¾ court sprint, which I think he will given what I’ve seen on film, it would answer many of the questions surrounding McDermott’s NBA potential.
Simply put, McDermott is going to be able to score in the NBA. His shooting ability is going to translate really nicely, because he’s got a near-perfect jumper. His fluid, high-arching, quick release is practically on par with Mike Miller and Kyle Korver in its silkiness, and when it’s coming out of the arms of a 6’8” forward, that’s going to be very difficult to stop. He’s a terror in spot-up opportunities, off the pick-and-roll, off screens, in transition, and off the dribble. He’s by far the most efficient shooter in this year’s crop from beyond the perimeter, and could be similar to Ray Allen in the multitude of ways a team could set him up for open looks. McDermott on a team with great spacing would be a fever dream; in fact, just imagining him operating with the wide open offenses in Phoenix or Houston is almost too good to be true.
McDermott is far from a one-dimensional player, however. He can also score in the post with a variety of moves. Many of these may not translate to feasible options against NBA athleticism; however, he’s got a decent face-up game, a little turnaround jumper, and his fadeaway is near flawless. These are three moves an undersized forward can easily succeed with in the NBA. Off the dribble, he can be a little chaotic, but as mentioned earlier, he gets to the line a ton, rebounds very well, and is a near-automatic weapon from the line. The biggest areas of concern might be his passing, which is underwhelming, and setting screens, which he’s not big enough to do effectively. However, there are still enough tools here to get very, very excited about.
Let’s just say that McDermott is never going to be confused with Andre Iguodala. McDermott’s defensive capabilities are extremely limited, and he definitely is going to get roasted defensively throughout his career. His block rate and steal rate in college basically equated to a level that could be described as “accidental.” He doesn’t have the agility to keep up with quicker forwards, and will get bullied in the post. However, the one positive that you can give McDermott on this end is that he’s incredibly smart and has a good grasp of team defense. You may not be able to count on McDermott to make many plays on this end, but he’s at least in the right spot most of the time, which is a big hurdle for many young players to overcome. The thing that makes Kyle Korver a passable defender is his sense of positioning within a defensive system, and that’s why I have at least a little hope that McDermott won’t be David Lee in the NBA on defense.
McDermott is the son of coach Greg McDermott, and at Creighton, it showed. He is very cerebral on both ends of the court. Part of the reason he could be passable on defense is that he understands team defense. Part of his transition effectiveness stems from his awareness and ability to fill open space up the court. McDermott is smart enough that he should make a seamless transition into NBA offensive and defensive schemes without too much trouble. McDermott also was in an interesting situation in college, because even though he really didn’t have much tournament success, he transitioned well from dominating a mid-major conference to dominating a major conference. Even though the Big East wasn’t as strong as the ACC or the Big Ten this year, that McDermott made the leap from playing Illinois State and Missouri State to dueling Villanova and Marquette without a noticeable drop-off in any area except for rebounding is remarkable. This hopefully will remove the “Small school, AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY” bias that often can get attached to guys from mid-major programs. That McDermott played so well against decent competition this year is a really good sign for his pro prospects, and makes the guessing game that can happen with mid-major guys less prominent. Finally, the intangible section is the best place to let you know that the following image exists. So, here you go. I present, Doge McBuckets:
Ryan Anderson is the logical comparison here. While Anderson is a little bigger, he succeeds in many of the same ways on the offensive end that McDermott does, including off the dribble on pick and roll and off screens. Anderson also had similar problems defensively that McDermott did, in that his steal and block rates have never been anything spectacular. If McDermott can get stronger inside, Anderson is definitely a decent comparison. However, McDermott could also go the other way. If McDermott actually is quick enough to handle small forwards at least slightly competently, Mike Miller is actually closer to McDermott’s offensive game. Miller’s a better passer than McDermott, but several aspects of Miller’s game (Off-ball movement, quick release) make him seem like the closer comparison. Miller was also a pretty good rebounder for his role in his prime, as well. Who knows? Maybe McDermott can be some kind of unholy Miller/Anderson cross-breed that can score inside and out and be a complete terror on the offensive end. Likely, I think he ends up as closer to Miller’s prime, as an acceptable role player who makes a million plays in one game per playoff run, who rebounds acceptably and is at least hideable on defense.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
Realistically, McDermott probably isn’t someone the Cavs should be considering with their top pick. They have Anthony Bennett, and should settle his issues before they attempt to add another tweener forward. Pairing McDermott ad Bennett would be a sieve defensively, especially if Spencer Hawes is brought back as the main center. Offensively it could work, as McDermott would add some excellent spacing to the offense and might compliment Tristan Thompson nicely on the offensive end. The McDermott and Bennett pairing might also not be a horrible match on the offensive end, especially if Bennett improves his post game. He’d also be a fun transition weapon for Kyrie Irving. However, despite all of these possible benefits, you’re left with an ultimate question of whether McDermott or Bennett can spend a majority of their time at the three, and we did just play that game this past season with Earl Clark and Bennett this season. McDermott could be a good fit, especially if the Mike Miller comparison ends up being closer to the truth. However, there are better fits in the draft for the Cavaliers to spend a pick on.