Mitch McGary, 6-foot-10 power forward, Michigan
2013-14 stats (8 games): 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 54.5 FG%
A raw, high-energy big man, McGary has seen many ups and downs throughout his amateur career, from being an anonymous Midwest recruit to an elite prospect and back to the middle of the pack, and from freshman disappointment to Final Four hero, all the way to his current situation. McGary’s impact on the game is highly evident, as his physical nature, all-out effort and blend of mobility, size and power are rather unique. However, the limited sample size of his college career and injury history raise an equal amount of concerns, thus making it hard to project how he will fare on the next level.
Career highlights: A product of Northwest Indiana who finished his high-school career at a New England prep school, the former McDonald’s All-American was inconsistent through most of his freshman year, averaging 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 59.8 percent from the field as a reserve before becoming a full-time starter in the NCAA Tournament and finding his groove en route to Michigan’s run to the national-championship game, with a 25-point, 14-rebound effort to beat Kansas in the Sweet 16 showcasing his ability. McGary’s stock went up as a result of his tournament play, but he opted to return to Michigan for his sophomore year, then sat out the beginning of the season with back issues. He played in eight games, averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game before having back surgery, then declared for the draft, later revealing that he tested positive for marijuana and would have faced a year-long NCAA suspension.
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Strengths: A powerful, active and mobile big man, McGary is a force when he’s on the floor, whether running the floor in transition, on either end of the glass or with the ball in his hands on offense, where he can make dynamic moves to the basket or find teammates. His strength is already NBA-caliber, so his willingness to bang in the paint and take contact in general will translate to the next level, as will his selfless mentality. Rugged, yet still possessing a high skill level, McGary’s high-energy style bodes well for him moving forward.
Weaknesses: Obviously his injury history, combined with his admission of marijuana use, doesn’t help McGary, though his advanced age for his class is probably the biggest concern about his future development. While it would be inaccurate to say that McGary isn’t skilled, he certainly isn’t the most polished player when it comes to his post-up game or jumper. He also has a tendency to get into foul trouble and as hard as he plays, there are questions about his individual scoring ability.
Draft projection: Despite not playing for most of last season and limiting his pre-draft workouts, McGary is a good bet to be selected anywhere from the bottom of the first round to early in the second. Barring further injury, there is a definite place pro-ready physique, energetic play and overall toughness, and assuming he’s healthy, works to polish his game and finds the right fit, McGary could play decent minutes early in his career, though it’s not out of the question that he spends some time in the D-League as a rookie. Down the line, McGary should establish himself as a valuable long-term role player, whether it’s as the first big man off the bench or a starter in the right situation.