Wow, I have to say we have a great matchup here between a four and five seed as the first round of the At The Hive 9th Pick Tournament winds down. Dario Saric -- a forward who's been dominating the past few years in Croatia -- faces one of the NCAA's most prolific scorers, Doug McDermott.
Who's going to advance on here and face the trade for veteran option?
As always, I'm joined by James Plowright of TheLotteryMafia.com to discuss these prospects. Enjoy!
Evan: What a matchup we have today, James. Dario Saric and Doug McDermott square-off for the readers' votes. Lets start off with McDermott first. What's your overall thoughts on him and how he could possibly fit in with the Hornets?
James: Dougie McBuckets. All current sources -- according to Rick Bonnell, Derek Bodner and Chad Ford -- point towards this being Charlotte's number one guy, if they keep the ninth pick. Many Charlotte fans have horrible, painful, and vivid flashbacks of another unathletic white guy who attended a mid-major college and was known for his scoring ability. Adam Morrison has already retired despite being drafted in 2006, the same year as Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge. So, yeah, hat didn't turn out so well.
So should Charlotte fans worry? No, sleep easy, McDermott is not Morrison 2.0.
Everyone knows McDermott can score the ball, so I'm not going to bore you with percentages but rather look at little things within his game which people may not know.
McDermott is an elite shooter, probably the best in the draft ahead of Nik Stauskas, due to his lightning quick release and ability to be efficient shooting the ball all over the floor. On the perimeter, he has the ability to hit spot-up threes or take them off the dribble. A lot of teams switched on the screens when guarding McDermott -- bad idea. Doug has a fantastic basketball IQ. When a smaller player was switched onto him, McDermott would take them down into the post where he used his elegant footwork to get to the basket or (dare I say it) a one legged Dirk Nowitzki-like fade away.
Defensively is where you start to find questions. He is perceived to be your stereotypical white college kid: slow and not very athletic. However, is this a misconception?
Draft Express ranked McDermott as the 15th best athlete in the draft after his combine results. His max vertical was 36.5 inches -- that is better than the likes of J.R. Smith, Anthony Randolph and Charlotte's very own Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. His lane agility score was better than Andre Iguodala, Gerald Green and Jimmy Butler. His standing reach is longer than Gordon Hayward, DeMar DeRozan and Maurice Harkless. Now, personally, I don't treat these stats as the end-all, be-all of everything, but it just goes to show he is more athletic than the majority of people think.
One very worrying part of McDermott's game is his historically low steal (0.2) and block rate (0.1). There is virtually no successful NBA player who had such poor statistics at the college level, a worrying stat indeed.
One theory I have is McDermott was so important to his Creighton team that he didn't go for steals or blocks, in the risk of getting in foul trouble. I think that may be part of it, but still those stats are unacceptable. If McDermott wants to see the floor at the NBA level, he will have to learn to be effective on the defensive end of the floor.
Overall, McDermott has proven himself every time.
Last summer he practiced with the USA Select team (interestingly with MKG and Kemba Walker) and according to NBA Draft scout Ed Isaacson -- who attended the event -- McDermott "more than held his own." When moving to the Big East this year in a conference re-shuffle, he came up against tougher competition and was able to increase his production, this should help answer some of the questions about the level of McDermott's competition.
So how does he fit in Charlotte? Pretty fantastically.
Charlotte, like we have all said one hundred times, "needs shooting." McDermott brings that in abundance and would bring a strong scoring pitch to the second unit. Steve Clifford would likely start with MKG and end games with McDermott. Like Clifford says, "Your spacing is your shooting." McDermott is also 22 years of age and has more of a "mans body."
He would be able to come in and contribute right away, which appears to fit Charlotte's mandate. Due to Kidd Gilchrist's defensive versatility and his ability to guard a lot of power forwards, they would most likely be able to play together at times, which could give the team a good defensive/offensive combination.
Evan: Like you said, McDermott would be perfect on the perimeter for the Hornets.
From an age perspective (it has to be asked), have we seen his peak -- unlike potential guys like Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh? What's your thoughts on that notion?
James: I think that notion is completely wrong.
Just because a guy is 22 means we have seen his peak? I mean come on, be serious! These guys are going to have access to the gym every day, sports scientists, strength and conditioning coaches for 365 days a year, if they want it. Not only that, but they will be playing in a league where they will likely have a lot better spacing (unless they land in Memphis) and much better point guards to get them the ball in the correct positions.
David West, Chandler Parsons, J.J. Redick, Damian Lillard and Tim Duncan all stayed at college for four years.
Parsons just had his best year as a pro in his third season in the league. Redick took a while to put it together in Orlando, but is now the starting guard on one of the top 5 teams in the NBA. So the whole "limited upside" debate doesn't depend on age the majority of the time (it does in some cases) it depends on how hard they work, how intelligent they are and if they have the athletic tools to reach their potential.
Evan: Could McDermott actually end up being a starter in Charlotte, or are his defensive deficiencies too strong to keep him in an off-the-bench role?
James: He could. I think it is unlikely but certainly possible.
Clifford has said in the past that he likes to start with his best defensive team and finish with the best offensive team. As long as MKG is on the roster, I think he will start -- that is unless McDermott really improves his defense to a level where Clifford feels the drop off in defense from McDermott to MKG is offset by the added value of McDermott's offense. However, I don't think that will happen in McDermott's first year. Clifford has said after workout videos how there are only a handful of guys in the league over the last 5-10 years who have come in, started and played a large role on good playoff teams.
I also feel McDermott needs to have the green light and have license to get shots up. With Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson being in the first unit, he may find his scoring chances limited. Being a first or second option on the second unit may suit his style of game better.
Evan: If McDermott is taken here, could Josh McRoberts be on the way out of Charlotte this summer?
James: No I don't think so. I mostly see McDermott playing the small forward position. No, he can't stop the elite guys but who can?
Michael Jordan recently had an interview where he spoke about the importance of Josh McRoberts, so you can see the Hornets really do value him and want him back next year. I think he stays.
Evan: Okay, that was great talk on McDermott. Now on to his competitor, Dario Saric.
What's your overall thoughts on Saric, and his possible fit with the Hornets?
James: Some see Dario Saric as the next Fran Vasquez, some see him as the best euro prospect of the last ten years. There really does appear to be a strange story surrounding Saric. Lamar Odom is about as good a comparison as you can have.
Word is Saric will only come over to the NBA for next year if he is drafted to somewhere of his choice. If the likes of LA or Boston draft him, he is likely to come over. But, say the Magic, Sixers or Hornets do, he is likely to stay. I know this may seem fuzzy, but think about it. If you were coming over to this country to play for the first time would you really want to go to a small franchise which doesn't have a great track record of success? Although the Lakers and Celtics are in a down year right now, they have championship pedigree. The cream always rises to the top, even if the NBA's new CBA does try to stop that from happening.
Saric has the talent to be a top- five pick. If he was 100% committed to coming over, I genuinely think he would be in play with the Magic and Jazz at four and five. However, Saric's dad doesn't want him to come over to the NBA for at least another two years, where his agent thinks he should make the move now. All in all, his dad is very involved in Saric's career and has strong input on any decisions he makes.
Saric has a tremendous feel for the game. You could be mistaken at times to think he is a point guard the way he handles and passes the ball, his understanding of offense is simply fantastic. His jump shot has improved in recent years and towards the end of the season with Cibona, he looked to really find his stroke shooting over 40 percent in the post season.
Defensively, Saric is a little thin and isn't the quickest or most athletic defender. He does have quick hands, though, and a good understanding of where to be. Overall, I see him to have the ability to be an average NBA defender, once he bulks up and gets use to the NBA officiating.
In terms of his fit with Charlotte, I think he could do well. Clifford would like his size, skill and passing ability. Eventually, I think he could play both forward positions, but early on in his career I see him as more of a three -- even though I feel his skill set might actually suit a four better.
The big question with Saric is nobody knows what his future plans are. It could turn into another Nikola Mirotic situation -- where you have an immensely valuable player but you just have now idea when he will come onto your roster.
Saric is a major talent. If he was 100% coming over, I reckon he would be in the Vonleh, Marcus Smart and Gordon tier in the 5-8 range. I expect him to rise.
Evan: Could you see Rich Cho and Co. going the European route, if Saric is there at No. 9.
Personally, I love the fit all around -- but the question is, does Saric even want to play in a place like Charlotte?
James: I honestly don't think they will go that way. Saric doesn't really look like a "Cho guy" to me. Also, our biggest need is shooting and all the rumblings we have heard so far have us throwing the old "Take the best player available" idea out the window to improve our shooting.
Is that a wise thing to do? I'm not sure.
I really don't see us selecting Saric, but if we did, I would actually be very excited. Cho will have done his research and spoken to both him and his agent about playing in Charlotte. But I agree, I think it is unlikely he is desperate to become a Hornet.
Evan: To wrap this up, who would you take, James? Will it be Saric or McDermott who moves on to the second round for you?
James: McDermott, just due to the unknown factor with Saric.
However, if Cho has spoken to his agent and had found Saric was eager to play in Charlotte and was willing to come over this year, I would for vote Saric.