Boston likes oversized white guys who carry their mid major team with their unstoppable shooting and scoring ability, right? Brad Stevens too. Now before you skip down to the comment section and attempt to stone me for blasphemy, know that I did not just compare Gordon Hayward and Doug McDermott to Larry Bird. It’s just that there’s way too much in common to simply pass over.
Four years ago, coach Brad Stevens, then with Butler, led his mid-major Cinderella squad to the championship game on the back of Hayward. The 6’8 shooting wizard carried the Bulldogs over superpowers Syracuse, Kansas State, and Michigan State by leading the team in scoring in every single tournament game. Hayward-to-Boston trade rumors bubbled all year, but nothing ever proved fruitious.
In comparing their college statistics, the similarities between the two are plentiful. Despite the fact that Hayward struggled from behind the arc in his final sophomore season, his strong shooting performance in his freshman year proved he had a talented stroke. His shooting percentages have also been impressive as a pro, although he has struggled through a terrible year in Utah where he has often been the only guy defenses have to worry about. At Creighton, McDermott has had one of the greatest college basketball careers of all time. The current NCAA leader in points per game, McDermott has averaged over 20 ppg of the last three seasons and currently ranks fifth all-time in total points. In Creighton’s first year in the Big East, he was named Big East Player of the Year, First-Team All Big East, and First-Team All-American. His 45 points on Senior Night were a career high and a school record.
In his transition to the NBA, McDermott’s size raises some questions. As a 6’7 college forward, he has been able to dominate smaller swingmen in the post and bigger forwards on the perimeter. With his lack of strength and lateral quickness, scoring at the next level will not be nearly as easy. But the biggest concern is his defense. Most NBA players who stand 6’7 and weight 225 are high-flying swingmen. McDermott’s lack of athleticism may prove to be a huge negative here. With his negatives all surrounding his defense and athleticism (two things scouts drool over), his stock has dropped year by year as scouts have continuously dissected his game. Based off of what teams have said about him and his difficult, tournament-ending showing versus Baylor, I predict McDermott to land in early teens/late lottery.
While the Celtics probably don’t plan on using their potentially top-six pick on McBuckets, we do have to consider their second first round pick. Falling in the place of either the Nets or the Hawks, whoever has the better record, I predict this pick will be in the 15-20 range. The Brooklyn’s record (better than Atlanta’s), is currently 16th worst in basketball. While they have played well lately, I don’t expect them to catch Chicago or Toronto, the two teams ahead of them in the standings. Thus, McDermott’s range could match up perfectly with the Celtics’. And if it doesn’t? Couple that first round pick with Jeff Green and try to trade up. Green’s incredibly inconsistent play has been downright maddening this season. 39 points one night, 2-12 shooting the next? According to 82games.com, the small forward position has been the least offensively productive spot for the Celtics all season. The Celtics offense is somehow 4.8 points per 100 possessions better with Green off the floor. If given the chance, wouldn’t you want to replace that with college basketball’s leading scorer and a player who scored at least twenty points in 32 of Creighton’s 35 games?
With McDermott’s projection falling close to wear the Celtics will be picking, I urge of you Mr. Ainge to take a serious look at the stud from Creighton. If it means trading Green to move up, so be it. But if given the chance to replace the inconsistent Jeff Green with a higher efficient, more consistent scorer (with one of them coming off the bench for added scoring punch) then I say fire away! I wouldn’t say take McDermott with the top-6 pick, but if you can grab a player like Smart/Randle and then the Great White Wonder later? I’d call that a score.