His name is Dougie, he gets McBuckets, and he does so with his special power of literally every single spot on the court being a hot spot for him. He appends this power with good feel for the game, as he’s in touch with his plentiful limitations and uses his smarts to be as good as he can be in spite of them. This is enough good stuff to dominate summer league, and McDermott obliged with an efficient 18 points per game.
I had questions about how much McDermott could translate his college scoring to the pros, but there was no question that he could drain 3’s and space the floor. This is where he thrived during summer league, as 50% of his points came from behind the arc as he shot 12/27 from 3. Further, he was fouled shooting three 3’s, and 62.5% of his points came from deep if you include those in his beyond the arc tally. McDermott moves well off the ball, and he has a quick release and deep range that implies he should be able to get off his fair share of 3 point shooting volume in the pros in spite of questionable foot speed.
McDermott also showed good feel for the game, as he made the simple pass when he didn’t feel he had an angle to attack. Some of his passes to teammates cutting to the rim were impressive and accurate, and it’s worth wondering whether McDermott can leverage his elite shooting touch to become a pinpoint passer as well now that he will be depended upon to score less and move the ball more. He also did a solid job of avoiding mistakes, finishing summer with 11 assists and 12 turnovers.
The trouble is that I expected his inside the arc scoring to translate poorly, and his limitations were painfully evident throughout summer league. His most glaring limitation offensively is that he can hardly dribble. He isn’t completely worthless handling the ball, he hit a couple of shots off the dribble, and he was able to draw FT’s inside by attacking off the dribble. One time he almost got all the way to the rim with a couple of dribbles and a spin move, but his shot attempt was violently rejected. This also inhibits his passing upside, as he shows nice promise as a passer but is never going to break down the defense and create for his teammates. The only pass attempt that I recall coming off the dribble (I’m sure there were others but I’m too lazy to review) was a lob in transition that was badly off the mark and deflected for a turnover.
This makes shot creation an issue for him. He’ll get off his fair share of 3’s but nobody can carry an offense with 3 point shooting alone. The non 3 point shooting attempts that he generated were mostly in the mid-range. He had some catch and shoot attempts, a step back jumper off the dribble (which he hit), a 10 foot floater off the dribble (which Nerlens goaltended), and even a couple of one legged fadeaways of which he hit at least one. But as a college player he was highly dependent on rim scoring, and I only counted two clean looks at the rim this summer: 1 breakaway dunk in transition, and 1 layup he converted on a backdoor cut. He thrived on cuts in college and needs to convert them at a higher rate to maximize his offensive skill set as a pro. Further, once you take away his FT’s from technicals and being fouled on 3’s, he only generated 3 FTA per game. He was called for a few charges and often turned it over when he tried to attack, and when he did get to the line he was normally dribbling into a crowd with not much good stuff brewing without the benefit of a whistle.
McDermott finished summer league 7/16 inside the arc, which is a stark constrast to Jabari Parker’s 24/51 or TJ Warren’s 34/64. Based on college stats they all appeared to be strong interior scorers, but it’s clear based on both stats and observation that TJ’s game translates awesomely, Jabari’s translates decently, and McDermott’s barely at all. You can discount the transition buckets that Warren and Parker got all you’d like, but they have the handles and physical capacity to look comfortable taking the ball coast to coast and finishing. Whenever McDermott handled the ball in the open court, he looked completely uncomfortable and would give it up before he crossed inside the 3 point arc. It seems that McBuckets just aren’t as easy to come by for his style of play against tougher competition. He’ll still get some mid-range shots off, and maybe he just needs to catch up to speed to get more rim shots off of cuts, but the early returns are fairly gloomy.
Defensively, I spent much of this past season trying to glean what McDermott’s non-existent steal and block totals mean, and I finally understand. In spite of his horrible physical tools, he does a surprisingly good job of staying in front of his man. He does so by giving enough space to make it hard for his opponent to blow by him. Consequently he never applies any pressure on the ball, and because he’s not long enough to deflect passes or strong enough to rip the ball away, he pretty much only gets steals when it falls into his lap. And even though he’s not crazy unathletic or laterally challenged, he still is rather slow to rotate and he pretty much never blocks shots playing help defense. He also rarely blocks shots in man since he gives space to the ball handler, but all of his whopping 3 summer league blocks came in man to man (although one of them appears to be due to generous scoring).
I think he’s smart enough, works hard enough, and moves his feet just barely well enough to not be the worst defensive player of all time. He definitely has a puncher’s chance of being passable enough to justify his offensive goodness. But at the same time he’s still going to be bad. He gets beat off the dribble plenty, and NBA players should be able to get off easy 3 point shots with the space he gives. He will be a liability in both man and team defense and it really puts the pressure on him to bring offensive goodness to the table to truly be a valuable piece.
The biggest problem with McDermott is that he just doesn’t have a single physical tool to lean on. He’s slow and unathletic, but he would have some intrigue if he had really long arms or was chiseled like Wally Szcerbiak. Unfortunately he has short arms and is about as muscular as the Pillsbury Doughboy. With his physical deficiencies it’s hard to see him thriving without a really unique offensive package, and the court being one giant hot spot just doesn’t seem like enough. He’d carry more intrigue if he had really slick handling and passing ability like Nik Stauskas, but man are his handles bad for a 22 year old lotto pick projected to score a bunch.
One note is he is definitely a SF in the NBA. He doesn’t have the size or strength to spend any time at all in the post, and he will get destroyed if he ever has to try to match up with Zach Randolph or Blake Griffin. The Clippers were highly physical with him and really pushed him off his spot at will, and he didn’t start playing well until he was able to match up with the soft defenses provided by Denver and Minnesota. But he moves his feet just barely well enough to give hope that he can hold his own on the perimeter, so that’s his best bet.
I feel like my pre-draft analysis was spot on and I’m sticking to my story. In fairness to McDermott, he gets compared to Adam Morrison quite a bit and he does seem to be a much better prospect since he’s a great shooter and Morrison was just a decent shooter who chucked. I had given McDermott an upside of SF version of JJ Redick, and that seems accurate. His features are that he spaces the floor, can probably develop a bit of a mid-range game, move the ball, and try his best to not be a disaster on defense. If he has any edge over Redick it’s that he can use his size to finish with greater frequency on cuts to the hoop, but based on his summer league showing I really would not be optimistic in McDermott’s ability to score frequently in the paint. Also he may become substantially worse than Redick, as his inability to dribble will likely impede him and at age 22 he doesn’t have a long window to get better. I stand by my assertions that McDermott can become something, but he’s a long shot to become something that is worth more than the MLE on the open market. That’s simply not something that you draft for in the lottery, as he’s at best worth a late 1st round or early 2nd round pick. He’s fun and has some compelling strengths, but his glaring limitations place a hard cap on his upside which is a really big deal in the draft.