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Will Doug McDermott Be a Disappointment in the NBA?

Creighton's Doug McDermott (3) drives past Xavier's Isaiah Philmore during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big East Conference tournament Friday, March 14, 2014, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMarch 25, 2014

Disappointment is all relative to one's expectations. 

Some think of Doug McDermott as one of the top prospects in the field. Others simply view him as a safe bet. A few actually believe his game just wasn't made to translate. 

Unfortunately, given how high profile he's become with regard to the NBA draft conversation, there probably won't be much middle ground for McDermott to land on. Chances are if McDermott isn't great, he's going to be considered a disappointment. 

And it shouldn't be like that. 

McDermott is likely to disappoint those expecting unrealistic results. Given the role change he's about to encounter, along with his physical limitations, the bar really needs to be set at a reasonable height. 

For starters, McDermott isn't going to be featured at the next level the way he is at Creighton. He won't be the No. 1 option out of sets, with passers patiently waiting for him to make his cuts, flashes or curls.

This season, McDermott was used in 32.9 percent of his team's possessions, and he took 38.6 percent of Creighton's shots while on the floor. 

Check out how much McDermott was used in his offense compared to how some of the other top prospects were used in theirs:

Usage
Percentage of Possessions: National RankPercentage of Shots Taken: National Rank
Doug McDermottNo. 13No. 2
Andrew WigginsNo. 314 (25.5 percent)No. 281 (26.8 percent)
Jabari ParkerNo. 24 (31.8 percent)No. 41 (32.3 percent)
Julius RandleNo. 241 (26.5 percent)Not Ranked (22.9 percent)
Kenpom.com

He's just not going to get this ridiculously heavy usage in the pros. McDermott will have to adjust to a supporting, opportunistic scoring role after spending so much time as a go-to option, and it's going to limit his opportunities. 

The good news is his strengths should allow him to make that adjustment seamlessly. And that's why I believe McDermott will have a long and prosperous career. 

There isn't anyone better at moving without the ball and positioning himself for open shots. And we all know what he can do with open shots. 

McDermott shot over 52 percent from the floor and over 44 percent from downtown for the third straight year. 

However, he won't be seeing double screens set for him on the same play anymore. I imagine he's going to be doing a ton of spotting up, waiting for a guard to drive and dish, a big man to kick it out or the ball movement to find him. 


And there are two reasons why McDermott isn't likely to be featured in an offense, and they both stem from the same issue.

He's not much of an athlete at a position that's loaded with athleticism. McDermott projects as a small forward. He just doesn't have the size, strength or length to really make it work as a power forward.

Offensively, McDermott isn't likely to get as much separation as he's gotten in the Big East. 


McDermott has a 6'8" wingspan. Most NBA small forwards his size have wingspans around the 7'0" range, if not longer. 

He also lacks the foot speed and explosiveness to get to the rack one-on-one. It's not going to stop him from making shots, but don't expect his coach to draw up any isolation plays for McDermott.

The biggest reason McDermott isn't likely to emerge as a can't-miss NBA player centers around his limited defensive potential. 

I'm just not sure what starting small or power forward he's going to be able to guard. McDermott is slow laterally in terms of defending the perimeter, and he lacks the strength to hold his ground in the post. 

His defensive reaction time just isn't there. Take a look at how ridiculous his defensive stats have been for four years at Creighton:

Defensive Playmaking
Total StealsTotal Blocks
2013-1485
2012-1382
2011-1273
2010-11114
Basketball-Reference.com

McDermott has as many steals for the whole season as some forwards get in a week. 

Still, we've seen plenty of non-athletes make good livings in the pros.

I'm projecting McDermott to end up looking like a mix between former Creighton star Kyle Korver and current New Orleans Pelicans stretch forward Ryan Anderson.  

McDermott is a phenomenal catch-and-score guy who knows how to play within the system. And if he lands in one where he can play to his strengths, he's going to produce—his skill level is simply too high. 

Just don't let his college production cloud your projection of him. McDermott will be a fine offensive player, and quite frankly, one that a lot of teams could use. 

But if you're expecting his takeover ability to carry over to the pros, you're probably going to be disappointed. 

Look for McDermott to hit plenty of shots throughout his career, only under a completely different identity than the one he owns now. 

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