I love watching Doug McDermott play basketball. He plays hard, his teammates love him and he can score without ever taking a bad shot. Known mostly as "high school teammate of Harrison Barnes" prior to his breakout sophomore season, the senior forward has made a name for himself far beyond being a coach's kid. He is soon to join the exclusive 3000-point club and likely to finish as one of the top 5 scorers in the history of college basketball. The Creighton star has accumulated this impressive total almost entirely within the team concept. He is a relentless rebounder, willing screener, and great shooter who has amassed all of his points while taking nothing away from his teammates. He deserves to be the Naismith Player of the Year in addition to whatever other awards and accolades are sure to come in the next 6 weeks.
McDermott was not recruited by major college programs--not even by his own father who was coaching at Iowa State. Greg McDermott believed the Big 12 was too physical for Doug, so the younger McDermott committed to Northern Iowa. The Big 12 was too much for the older McDermott, too and he accepted the job as head coach at Creighton. Doug joined his father and a historic career began. A career that I hope will go beyond the first weekend of the NCAA tournament this time around as it would be a blast to see Dougie McBuckets carry his team deep into March and maybe even April. It would be great to see more performances like this one against San Diego State (currently ranked in the top-10) on the biggest stage:
Doug McDermott Full Highlights 2013.11.29 vs San Diego State - 30 Pts. (via Dawk Ins)
What happens after the tournament is the great debate about McDermott. He is headed for the NBA Draft, but who does he compare to and where should he be drafted? The reach for comparisons on McDermott is embarrassingly riddled by sterotypes and misinformation. Most lists of white shooters are poor comparisons to
Adam Morrison Larry Bird Chris Mullin Mike Miller Joe Alexander Jimmy Chitwood Doug McDermott (Jimmy Chitwood may actually compare, but the NBA data is insufficient). If stats help to confirm what our eyes see, here are some statistical comparisons of McDermott and other NCAA seniors with similar body types:
|McDermott (6'8", 225)||26.0||7.0||1.6||0.3||0.1||89||52||44|
|Player A (6'8, 220)||21.5||7.9||0.9||0.9||0.4||80||52||42*|
|Player B (6'7, 225)||19.0||8.3||3.0||1.4||0.3||74||56||44|
|Player C (6'7, 210)||17.8||6.4||3.1||1.5||0.7||91||47||48|
[*Player A played before the three-point line and the percentage is approximated according to NBA/International numbers equivalent to the college line]
Who would you pick as the best comparison? Go ahead make your pick...(insert Jeopardy! music here)...and what was your wager? My hunch is that the least common answer is Player C. Some may be able to identify him as Atlanta Hawk and fellow Creighton Bluejay Kyle Korver--a common McDermott reference because he can shoot, is white, and played at Creighton. Beyond that, their games are mostly different. While the comparison is not great, Korver does compare better than many other stereotype-based suggestions. So, what about the others? Player A is the best comparison to me, but Player B seems to show similar skills although a lower-volume scorer. Player A is former Indiana Pacer Chuck Person and Player B is current Los Angeles Clipper Jared Dudley.
Chuck Person began his career as an NBA starter and eventually became an effective player off the bench for contending teams, but he was never able to be a starter for a contending team. The former Auburn Tiger was a deadly shooter, unafraid to pull-up at any time. He was also a poor defender, an average ball handler, and a limited passer (the latter may have been by choice more than ability). Person was limited athletically, especially for a #4 pick overall in the 1986 draft (Note: he made up for this lack of athleticism in comparison to those drafted around him by not doing drugs). Person could have had a longer career if he had taken better care of his body, but he continued to add weight to a body that already lacked quickness and lift. Doug would be fortunate at this point to have a career that mirrored Person, yet that might extend longer by developing and taking care of his body. There are worse things than having a career comparable to the "Rifleman" (like THIS PICTURE for example). In order for McDermott to be something more than Chuck Person, he will have to get much stronger and demonstrate some basketball skills as a playmaker and defender that would seem to be evident by now. I think he is more likely to be a player like Dudley than Person. Dudley has not found playoff success in his career, but he is an excellent role player whose rebounding and shooting compensate for below-average defense. Dudley would seem capable of being a rotation player on a contending team. McDermott is a better scorer of the basketball and should be a better overall NBA player than the former Boston College star despite projecting as a less capable rebounder as a pro. Dudley was selected #22 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft which is right around where I have McDermott on the Peachtree Hoops Draft Board. McDermott would probably be a late lottery pick in most drafts and many mocks have him there this year. As much as I love him as a college player, it is hard for me to justify him being taken that high with the other talent available this year.
Doug McDermott can make almost any shot with efficiency. He should have no issue translating his shot to a deeper three-point line. He has an underrated first step and uses all of his length effectively when attacking the basket. He can make floaters, finish from multiple angles, and almost always has his body properly balanced. His greatest weakness as a scorer is a difficulty in finishing plays against contact. This will expose his post game at the next level due to an increase in physicality. I am as concerned about McDermott's lack of strength in the NBA as his lack of quickness. He moves his feet well in the post and has many advanced moves, yet he does not have enough length and bulk for hooks and fades basic to most post players. While this video does not give him enough credit for capably finishing plays in a larger sample size, it provides the best insight into what may cause issues for McDermott offensively at the next level:
Is Doug McDermott A Lottery Pick? Creighton vs DePaul (via BBALLBREAKDOWN)
Despite some limitations, McDermott should be able to translate his offensive weapons to be an effective scorer as an NBA small forward and occasionally be used as a match-up dependent stretch power forward. He will have to get stronger to do the latter on a consistent basis. Defensively, he has too much work to do in order to adequately defend any NBA position. In order to defend without being a team liability, a player must have one of three things: the base to stay in front of a defender, the hands to take the ball from a defender, or the length to make up for such a deficiency. Elite defenders possess all three. McDermott possesses none. He does not have the lateral quickness to stay in front of wing players or the leg strength to battle in the post. There is nothing on film or in measurements to indicate that McDermott will be able to develop such an ability beyond being a below-average defeneder. He will need a team effort to help him both on the perimeter and in the post. Plenty of players make an adjustment over the course of a career to fix physical deficiencies. Kyle Korver is a great example. He has learned to use his length to disturb quicker players and uses his hands (as you can see in his college numbers above) to disturb driving players. Korver is overmatched against good small forwards, but has developed into a good defender against most shooting guards. If not a great one-on-one defender, Korver has advanced to no longer being a liability on the defensive end. Despite a lack of quickness could McDermott make a similar adjustment?
In 140 college basketball games, McDermott has blocked a total of 13 shots. That is less than one per month for his career! With only a 6'8.5" wingspan, that abysmal block number would appear to translate that any capable perimeter shooter will be able to get a shot off with ease ("We are going streaking!") against McDermott. Furthermore, with only 33 steals in those same 140 games, it is hard to see what defensive weapon he possesses to avoid becoming a turnstile defender. A quality team will have to surround him with great, flexible defensive players or use him in games when he can defend a player with offensive limitations. At this point, he will have to get stronger, quicker, and improve his hands dramatically just to be a below-average NBA defender.
No matter how well McDermott scores the basketball, he does not project to be a fit for an Atlanta Hawks team with little need for a defensively-challenged small forward with an elite scoring touch who can occasionally spread the floor from the power forward spot. Even at the best projection for McDermott's career, Atlanta already has players with similar skills. With a pick in the 15-19 range, there are too many players available that fit Atlanta better and have more potential. There is a good chance that someone will take a chance on McDermott in the lottery due to his college production, but he will struggle greatly if his defensive limitations are not supported. As a basketball fan, I would prefer to see him drop to a playoff team looking to add a role player to the bench. He is polished enough to make an impact off an NBA bench as a rookie and could thrive as an impact role player that teams have to take account of in scouting reports. If he plays starter minutes in the NBA, it is difficult to believe it will be for a playoff team.