The Cleveland Cavaliers will pick No. 1 overall and No. 33 overall in the upcoming NBA draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft on June 26th. Today, we profile Michigan forward/center Mitch McGary. Click here for more draft profiles.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Mitch McGary
Position: Power Forward/Center
College: University of Michigan
Age: 21 (Turns 22 on June 6)
Honors: NCAA All-Tournament Team (2013), NCAA Tournament South Regional Team (2013), USA Junior National Select Team (2012), Parade All-American (2012)
2013-2014 Per Game Stats: 9.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 54.5% FG%, 0.0% 3PT%, 66.7% FT% (played in only eight games due to a back injury)
Like his Michigan teammate Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary passed up a chance to be a likely lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to return to college for another year, and like Robinson, McGary saw his stock slip to the point where he is a late first/early second round pick at best. Hurting McGary’s stock was a back injury that cost him all but eight games of his sophomore season, as well as a one-year suspension for marijuana use that essentially forced him to enter the draft. While no one doubts McGary’s talent, his health and potential character issues will raise red flags for any team.
McGary is sort of a mixed bag when it comes to physical tools. At 6’10” with shoes on and with a relatively short 6’11.5” wingspan, McGary is a bit undersized for an NBA center, and doesn’t really have the game of a power forward at the next level. He is also not explosive vertically and therefore doesn’t block a ton of shots. That being said, he does possess terrific lateral quickness and, at 265 pounds, has the necessary bulk to bang down low with many big men at the next level. He also has large hands, which help him catch passes near the basket off of lobs, cuts, and in the pick and roll.
McGary’s offense is based around his terrific motor and high basketball IQ. While not explosive, McGary is a solid dunker due to his quickness and terrific hands. This combination helps him in the pick and roll, in transition, and on cuts to the basket. McGary does a great job finishing around the rim at 62 percent over the last two seasons. He also plays within himself and averaged 1.3 turnovers per game in his college career. McGary has also worked on developing a jumper out to eighteen feet to make himself a pick and pop option, but that remains a work in progress. His post game is limited as well.
McGary’s energy also carries over to the defensive end. A bit undersized for a center with a mediocre wingspan, McGary is not much of a shot blocker or rim protector, but does somewhat make up for this with his lateral quickness. McGary’s average of 2.2 steals per forty minutes his freshman year is a terrific number and a high steal rate is often a predictor of NBA success. He also has a high I.Q. on this end of the floor and is typically in the right place on the floor for his team’s defensive scheme. Much like his play on the offensive end, McGary is willing to battle opponents down low and excels at disrupting the opposing offense by poking away entry passes to his man.
McGary is known as a solid teammate with a good basketball I.Q. and a terrific motor. Much of his success comes from simply out hustling the other players on the floor. It gives him a terrific steal rate, and the ability to beat other players down the floor in transition, and a willingness to play through contact on both ends of the floor. While he is on the older side at 22 years old, McGary has shown the skills necessary to have a long NBA career as a solid role player. As discussed, McGary’s back issues and marijuana conviction will be the two largest factors driving his stock down. Concerns with his back can be alleviated f the medical tests various teams put him through come back with little or no concern. The marijuana issue may be a larger concern. Whatever one’s opinion is of marijuana, McGary knowingly broke an NCAA rule and was aware of the potential consequences for breaking that rule. Not only did he receive a one-year suspension by the NCAA, essentially forcing him into the draft, but he potentially cost himself millions of dollars by bringing his character into question. Teams will want to see that McGary still has the focus and intensity that he showed in last year’s NCAA tournament.
Two players McGary has been compared to are Bill Laimbeer and J.J. Hickson, who aren’t really alike. McGary’s biggest similarity to Laimbeer is his terrific motor and his ability to affect the game by out hustling his opponent. That being said, Laimbeer is one of the most underrated and effective big men in the history of the game, and it’s hard to see McGary having the same impact Laimbeer did, especially on the defensive end. Cavalier fans are familiar with Hickson’s game, and he is typically at his best when using his energy and athleticism to out work opponents for transition buckets and putbacks. While McGary isn’t as explosive as Hickson can be, he is a better defender and could become a role player on a level similar to what Hickson has become the last years with the right team.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
If McGary falls into the second round, then he would be tremendous fit for the Cavaliers, provided they don’t select Joel Embiid with the first overall pick. While he undoubtedly has first round talent, his injuries and questions surrounding his marijuana use means there is a chance McGary will wind up a second rounder. By drafting him, the Cavaliers would have a rotation big who can play on both ends of the floor on an extremely favorable contract.