Depth for the interior was a critical need for the Thunder heading into this offseason, and I’m pretty sure that was the motivation behind the selection of Mitch McGary with the 21st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. While some Thunder fans groaned at the selection, I found it to be a rather solid one. At 255 lbs., McGary has the size to hold his ground in the low post that other prospects projected around the same draft position simply did not, and will almost surely never possess whatsoever.
McGary logged significant minutes in 4 out of the 5 Orlando Summer League contests. So, does McGary look to have what it takes to be an instant contributor to the Thunder? Let’s see what we can deduce from his Summer League stats.
Grizzlies: In 21:31, he scored 8 points off of 3-for-8 (37.5%) shooting, including missing his lone attempt from downtown (0%). He ended up 2-for-4 (50%) at the foul line, but managed to post 3 rebounds (1 off., 2 def.), a steal, and a block. However, his assist-to-turnover ratio wasn’t very good (1 assist to 2 turnovers), and he had a shot of his own blocked. At least he showed good discipline, as he ended the game with only 1 personal foul.
76ers: He did not play, as he was 1 of 4 players given the day off.
Nets: In 31:38, and his first start, he scored 18 points off of 8-for-17 (47.1%) shooting, although he missed another attempt from downtown (0%). He did, however, sink both of his free throw attempts this time around (100%), while pulling down 13 rebounds (6 off., 7 def.) to complete an impressive double-double performance. The assist-to-turnover ratio was still pretty bad (2 assists to 4 turnovers), as he managed to pick up 2 personal fouls and found another one of his shots blocked. Yet, none of that dampened his performance, as he even added a steal and 2 blocks of his own to his bottom line.
Pacers: In 23:07, he led the Thunder in scoring with 15 points off of a beautiful 5-for-7 (71.4%) shooting performance. He posted the same 5-for-7 (71.4%) from the free throw line, as he added 2 defensive rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal to his numbers. He ended the day with 2 personal fouls, and also saw one of his shots blocked for the third straight outing.
Heat: In 27:42, starting for the second time, he scored 18 points off of 8-for-16 (50%) shooting. He dropped both of his free throws (100%), while posting 5 rebounds (1 off., 4 def.) and 2 blocks. His assist-to-turnover ratio was dead even for the second straight match-up (2 assists to 2 turnovers), but he ended this one with 3 personal fouls, and 2 blocks against, which are both his Summer League worsts.
Totals: In 103 minutes and 58 seconds, or roughly 26 minutes a game, his per-game averages are as follows: 14.8 points off of 50% shooting (0% from 3-point range), 73.3% free throw shooter, 1.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 0.8 steals, 2 personal fouls, 2 turnovers, and 1.3 blocks against.
Averaging double-digit points per game is far above and beyond what was expected of McGary as a rookie in the Summer League. Although he was playing alongside more experienced players in Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson, and Perry Jones III, he was easily one of the Thunder’s standout players last week.
His foot speed is absolutely incredible for a man hauling 255 lbs., and he can be incredibly disruptive in the paint on defense. Once he learns how to better position himself in the post on offense, this kid’s ceiling could end up higher than any of us realized. The combination of an Ibaka/Adams/McGary rotation in the paint (assuming both Adams and McGary hit their ceilings), combined with Durant and Westbrook on the perimeter would almost guarantee that NBA Championships would be won by none other than the Thunder for the foreseeable future.
Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison are both in their contract years, so it’s possible that both are also in their final season in a Thunder uniform. McGary will learn the ropes from Collison this upcoming season, with the hopes that he can be one of the first bigs off of the bench by the 2015-2016 season. If he develops at the rate I’ve seen so far, I don’t foresee any issues in that department.