Doug McDermott, 6-foot-8 small forward, Creighton
2013-14 stats: 26.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, .526 FG%, .449 3P%
Coming off one of the most impressive individual college campaigns in recent memory, “Dougie McBuckets” is certainly one of the more recognizable names in the draft, even to casual fans. But while the scoring machine’s shooting certainly translates to the next level, there are questions about whether or not his other qualities make him a risky proposition, with the lack of NBA success for recent high-scoring college stars like Adam Morrison and Jimmer Fredette being cautionary tales. However, it’s believed that McDermott’s strengths more than compensate for his weaknesses, and he seems to have enough of an all-around game — his versatility could allow him to log time at both forward positions in various scenarios, such as small-ball offensive sets — that he can immediately fill a need for many teams in this perimeter-dominant era of the game and maintain a stable role for several years in the league.
Career highlights: A high-school teammate of Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes, the top-ranked prep player in their class, McDermott was originally a Northern Iowa recruit before his father, Greg, was fired by Iowa State and hired by Creighton. An impact player as a freshman — he was the Missouri Valley Conference’s Freshman of the Year and made first-team all-league after averaging —McDermott exploded as a sophomore, averaging 22.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while raising his three-point shooting to 48.6 percent from deep, dropping 44 points in a win over Bradley and garnering All-American recognition. It was more of the same as a junior, but even with big games against Creighton’s high-quality, non-conference opponents and trips to the NCAA Tournament, McDermott’s level of competition was questioned. That changed his senior year — which was preceded by an exclusive invitation to USA Basketball’s Select Team mini-camp, where he competed with and against some of the NBA’s top young players — when Creighton joined the Big East and he continued to destroy defenses, going for a career-high 45 points against Providence, twice blowing out highly-ranked Villanova and averaging 26.7 points per game en route to consensus national player of the year honors and scoring 3,150 career points, fifth all-time in NCAA history.
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Strengths: McDermott is best known for his long-range shooting ability, but he’s far from a one-dimensional scorer. While he will excel as a spot-up shooter, the forward has the ability to function as a pick-and-pop player and use screens himself, if defended by a traditional big man, which is one advantage of his “tweener” status. Not the most explosive athlete, McDermott should nonetheless also be able to be an effective low-post player when guarded by wings unaccustomed to playing post-up defense, and though the greater level of athleticism in the NBA won’t permit him to be an above-average rebounder, his toughness and nose for the ball should make him at least solid in this department. A high-I.Q. player, this coach’s son will be an intelligent decision-maker, make hustle plays and compensate for his lack of physical tools with a variety of intangibles, such as taking charges, making the extra pass and being in the right place at the right time.
Weaknesses: For all of McDermott’s offensive gifts, his lack of foot speed and explosiveness will limit his ceiling on the professional level. All of the clever fakes and footwork, power moves and pure shooting won’t matter as much against the length and shot-blocking prowess of most NBA defenders, meaning McDermott’s individual scoring ability will be diminished to situational usage. For the most part, his likely role will be as a forward who can stretch opposing defenses, as evidenced by his stint in last summer’s USA Basketball mini-camp, in which he settled in nicely as strictly a spot-up shooter. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it’s the other end of the court that raise concerns. McDermott’s potential as an offensive mismatch is countered by the question of whether or not he’ll be a defensive liability, as it’s easy to envision opposing coaches targeting him, via athletic wings off the dribble or big men on the block.
Draft projection: McDermott’s range is likely anywhere from the mid-lottery — the Kings at No. 8, assuming they keep the pick, wouldn’t be a bad fit — to just outside of it, as his outside marksmanship would be hard for the shooting-deficient Bulls to pass up with the 16th pick, if he’s still on the board. Although McDermott’s unlikely to ever approach his gaudy college statistics in the pros, he will enter the league with a defined niche and a polished skill set that coaches will value from the outset of his rookie season. Likely a rotation player from the start of his career, if surrounded by the right personnel — chiefly a rim-protecting big man to cover up for him on defense and on the offensive end of the court, either a playmaking point guard or a scorer that draws double teams to provide him with open looks — McDermott could blossom into a mid-teens scorer and competent rebounder, with his floor being just a perimeter specialist, though that role on its own holds high value in today’s game.