Queen City Hoops - Updated Charlotte Hornets Draft Buzz

Charlotte Hornets Draft Buzz – Doug McDermott Edition – UPDATED 6/10

Mar 8, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Doug McDermott (3) during their NCAA basketball game against the Providence Friars at the CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sport

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sport

Doug McDermott is the kid on the block that your parents love and urge you to hang around more. Polite, well-spoken, never gets in trouble, and – of course, he’s athletic. The star basketball player that sets the perfect example and was always coached by his father. A run-of-the-mill kid that seems destined for mediocrity + is easy to hate on to his peers, but not to the adults.

So, what is Doug McDermott as a draft prospect? He has some of the most surefire skills in this class – 49%, 49% & 45% from behind-the-arc in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons – respectively. He also possesses a background that is unique and will carry unknowns – played for a coach (his father) for four years at Creighton that accepted his defensive limitations in favor of his offensive firepower. And boy, did he flourish.

McDermott is an unbelievably versatile offensive player. Everyone seems to know him for his shooting ability over anything else, but the truth is that this kid can score the ball in a multitude of ways. Understanding angles, great footwork, a fully tooled triple-threat, and his sky-high IQ all contribute to why McDermott is so versatile offensively. McDermott is arguably the smartest player in this draft class. In his entire college career, only 40% of his points in the half-court came off of jump shots. In his senior year McDermott began to really showcase how he could get to the rim with his left or right hand, combined with Uncle Drew like footwork. DM also gets to the free-throw line at a respectable rate – 5.9 FTA/game last season, and this is also a skill that showed consistent progression in all four years at Creighton. Although his athleticism is nothing to write home about, McDermott understands angles well and can position his body correctly to corral rebounds – last season he averaged 7.0 RPG and 8.4 rebounds per 40 min pace adjusted. Not terrible.

All of the strengths listed above don’t combine to match up with what McDermott’s most impressive skill is – offensive efficiency. 52.6 FG%, 56.7 2P%, 44.9 3P%, & 86.4 FT% in his senior season suggest that there is literally no weak area in McDermott’s offensive game. What makes this even more impressive is that he attempted 18 shots per game and opposing defenses game-planned to take as much away from him as they could. Obviously, with little success.

Okay, to identify some weaknesses. McDermott is 22 1/2 years old – most likely the oldest prospect that the Hornets are targeting with the 9th pick. Age doesn’t really constitute as a weakness, but it is something that should be considered. DM also measured rather poorly at the draft combine – 6’6 1/4 without shoes & just a 6-9 1/4 wingspan. Good segway to the defensive concerns that surround him. His size + lack of elite athleticism make him a tweener defensively. Is he quick enough to keep SF’s in front of him and can he body up with PF’s near the basket? My inclination is that DM has a better chance against SF’s in the league, but it’s probably safe to say he’s never going to be more than an average defender. That being said, DM is a good team defender – typically in the correct spot on the floor in terms of help-defense and location of the ball, which is likely a direct correlation to his high overall basketball IQ. Solid team defense understanding should convert well into Steve Clifford’s system and very well may help hide DM on this end of the floor.

Lastly, McDermott isn’t a great passer. Well, let me rephrase that – he just doesn’t pass a a lot. His high basketball IQ, court awareness, and understanding of spacing suggest that there is room for improvement here. At Creighton, DM was on the floor to carry his team offensively, and that’s exactly what he did. How will he transition into a role on an NBA team where he isn’t coached by his father, is asked to come off the bench, and likely play with the ball in his hands less? It’s hard to picture McDermott becoming the guy that any NBA team plays through offensively, which is what he’s been his entire basketball career. He’ll have to take the backseat quite a bit now. His ceiling screams 6th man to me. Is DM capable of making this transition?

Okay, so here’s the latest buzz that surrounds McDermott and the Hornets. Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman both have Charlotte drafting him 9th in their ESPN mock drafts, and then yesterday there was this —

Fair enough. Reliable information. Everyone wants to scream smokescreen, but I’d imagine that this is very likely accurate. With a gun to my head I’d predict that McDermott, Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, James Young, and Zach LaVine are the top-5 guys on Charlotte’s big board (in no particular order). The Hornets front office seems to be dead set on attracting players both through the draft and free-agency, this summer, that will come in and contribute immediately. McDermott is likely the safest bet in the draft at 9th for a player that will be able to contribute offensively right away. I bet that most NBA scouts would agree that he doesn’t have the upside that Harris, LaVine, Stauskas, and Young have, but he should be able to come in and score the ball in some capacity right away. In short, for a team like Charlotte that wants to improve immediately and plans to add even more offensive weapons through free-agency, McDermott is probably a logical fit.

Try to follow me here, but this draft will carry quite a bit of risk for the Hornets if they do decide to make the conservative pick at #9. It’s predicated on the idea that they can add an elite talent in free-agency to make a McDermott kind-of pick fit the mold of the roster right away. Of course, drafting a guy such as Zach LaVine carries a ton of risk as well, but hopefully the difference is transparent. LaVine has homerun potential, McDermott is a standup double. And to add sugar to that last thought, Charlotte has quite a depressing draft history of passing on guys who would eventually become great NBA players (Rudy Gay, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard), but that’s a different conversation for a different day.

The ‘win now’ mindset is based on two concepts: 1) This roster has a two-year window in which they must find a way to improve drastically due to the fact that both Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker can become unrestricted free-agents at the end of the 2015-16 season. 2) The eastern conference is extremely vulnerable, so the idea of ditching the re-building mindset and gearing into ‘win now’ mode isn’t a laughable thought. Will the front-office get everything right this summer? Maybe, but I doubt it. It won’t be due to a lack of effort, but every other team in the league knows that Charlotte is desperate to get better right now, and will assuredly try to expose that in trade talks. This is why there is a high probability that the Hornets end up drafting 9th and 24th without being able to move either pick. Ultimately, that’s why I’d like the see the Hornets be a mixture of conservative and aggressive with their draft pick – take a player with the ability to come in and give you something immediately while also having the potential to blossom into something extremely special (*cough, cough – Stauskas*). If you think that player is Doug McDermott, great. I just don’t.

Spencer
5