Prospect Profile: Mitch McGary

April 20 at 10:00pm CDT By Zach Links

While shooting guard Nik Stauskas figures to be the first member of the Michigan Wolverines off the board in this year’s draft, teammate Mitch McGary also figures to garner some serious attention.  While McGary was a virtual lock for the first round in the underwhelming 2013 draft, his draft position is a little more tenuous this time around.

The 6’10″ big man returned to Michigan for another season of seasoning but things unfortunately didn’t go as planned.  McGary came into the year battling back issues which caused him to miss the first two games of the season.  While he showed grit by battling through the pain, he ultimately had to undergo surgery in December 2013, shutting down his season prematurely.  While he chose to stay in school last time around, McGary didn’t want to chance things yet again and entered his name in the draft along with teammates Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III.

McGary offers an extremely high motor and boasts the kind of skill set that should make him an ideal role player at the next level.  With his athleticism, McGary is able to disrupt shots on a regular basis and has shown that he can rebound with the best of them.  He also boasts a solid understanding of the game and his learning curve shouldn’t be as steep as others in the class.

During his freshman year and his abbreviated sophomore campaign, McGary showed that he can get boards on both the defensive side and the offensive side.  In roughly 20 minutes per contest over the past two years, McGary has averaged 6.6 boards per game, which averages out to 12.9 boards per a full 40 minute game.  During his freshman year, his offensive rebounding output put him amongst the very best in the Big Ten even though he wasn’t playing star minutes.

While he’s undersized to play the five at the next level, McGary’s overall strength should help him keep pace with bigger opponents.  It’s common to hear that collegiate frontcourt prospects need to “toughen up” and/or “bulk up,” but McGary probably won’t need to do much in either area.  The Wolverines big man isn’t a fully polished product, but he comes more NBA ready than most.

On the flipside, McGary’s offensive profile isn’t as impressive as his rebounding, defense, and overall hustle.  The 21-year-old’s post game still leaves much to be desired and it would be a surprise to see him used as a consistent offensive option early in his pro career.  Meanwhile, when McGary is further out, he has displayed less-than-ideal shot selection.  Rather than reacting to what he’s given, McGary willingly settled for some bad jumpers during his frosh campaign.

His free throw shooting is also cause for concern.  No one expects a 6’10″ big man to shoot from the charity stripe like Reggie Miller, but the 44.2% rate he offered from the line in 2012/13 is problematic.  McGary’s physical style will give way to a lot of hard fouls when he’s on offense and when that happens he’ll have to convert on the opportunities given to him.

All things considered, McGary doesn’t appear to offer the same kind of upside as other late first round options in this year’s class.  That’s thanks in part to McGary’s age – academic setbacks held back his schooling, so the sophomore is actually going to turn 22 over the summer.  He’s the same age (or older) than most college seniors, but only has 47 regular season NCAA games to his credit.

No one will mistake the sophomore for a potentially game changing type of talent like Kansas’ Joel Embiid, but he can help round out a team’s bench and contribute right off of the bat.  Much of McGary’s stock will likely hinge on how well he can move in workouts and how he checks out when he undergoes some rigorous physical exams.  Look for McGary to go late in the first round but not any higher.

And-Ones: Carr, Jackson, Lakers, Sixers

April 20 at 9:06pm CDT By Zach Links

Former high school standout Aquille Carr has officially declared for the 2014 draft, his agent tells Adam Zagoria of SNY (on Twitter).  Agent Joshua Wildes of Hazan Sports Management told Hoops Rumors via email that “Aquille is excited about this next chapter in his career and looks forward to fulfilling his dream.”  The 5’6″ guard, who turned down a scholarship offer from Seton Hall to pursue overseas opportunities, is not featured on DraftExpress’ 2014 mock. Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..

  • According to an NBA source, new president Phil Jackson has talked recently about his disappointment in some of the Knicks’ conditioning — or lack thereof — this year, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.  It’s unclear which players Jackson was talking about, though J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were coming off of offseason surgery and coach Mike Woodson mentioned that Shumpert was dealing with minor injuries throughout camp, which may have hindered him early on.
  • With the salary cap expected to rise to $63.2MM in 2014/15, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times looks at the decisions facing the Lakers this offseason.  Waiving and stretching Steve Nash‘s salary would spread his salary over the next three seasons, reducing the Lakers spending power for 2015/16, when players like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rajon Rondo may be available, and 2016/17, when Kevin Durant could be a free agent.
  • The Sixers managed to have a remarkably bad season in 2013/14, but now comes the tricky part for GM Sam Hinkie, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Philly figures to have two top ten picks in this year’s draft and it’ll be up to Hinkie & Co. to choose wisely.
  • Sam Amico of FOX Sports (on Twitter) agreed with a follower who says that the Bobcats never should have taken Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2 last year since he’s a perimeter player in today’s NBA who can’t shoot.   However, he can’t fault them too much (link) since several teams were trying to trade up to get him.
  • Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype spoke with Euroleague standout Malcolm Delaney about his opportunity to sign with the Rockets earlier this year.  Houston wanted to sign Delaney but FC Bayern, who was about to begin a playoff run, declined to let him out of his contract.  The 25-year-old says he’s not bitter towards the German club and hopes to get another NBA opportunity this summer.

Jazz Could Decide Corbin’s Fate Tomorrow

April 20 at 8:18pm CDT By Zach Links

Tyrone Corbin‘s job security in Utah has come into question and we could have a resolution sooner rather than later.  Multiple sources tell Tony Jones and Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune that Corbin and General Manager Dennis Lindsey are scheduled to meet on Monday and an announcement concerning Corbin’s future could come soon after that meeting.

A report late last week indicated that the Jazz already decided to part ways with Corbin, but both the club and the coach’s agent came out to deny the story.  It’s very possible that the Jazz will let Corbin go after a 25-57 season and a last place finish in the Western Conference, but nothing has been decided yet.  The sources told Jones and Luhm that Lindsey wanted to take the Easter weekend as a short cooling off period heading into tomorrow’s meeting.

Corbin took over in the middle of the 2010/11 season after longtime coach Jerry Sloan stepped down. The team went 8-20 the rest of the way that year, but Corbin guided the team to winning records the following two seasons. Utah appeared in the playoffs only once during Corbin’s tenure, and they were swept by the Spurs in the opening round in 2012.

Central Rumors: Cavs, Colangelo, Bucks

April 20 at 7:52pm CDT By Zach Links

Earlier this week, our own Chuck Myron looked at the free agent stock of Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng.  The Cavs were in talks with several teams about flipping Deng at the deadline, a sign that the club isn’t confident about its chances to keep the small forward.  We know that the The Lakers and Suns have interest, and the Mavs, Celtics, Magic and Bobcats are reportedly likely suitors as well, so things appear to be wide-open for the 29-year-old.  Here’s the latest out of the Central Division..

  • If Cavaliers acting General Manager David Griffin leaves the Cavs for the vacant Pistons job or isn’t retained, Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer says two names to keep in mind are Bryan Colangelo and Ed Stefanski.  Both were most recently with the Raptors and both likely would be under consideration should the Cavs have an opening. Griffin actually worked in Phoenix for Colangelo.  Stefanski, meanwhile, was previously was president and GM of the 76ers and GM of the Nets where he worked alongside Rod Thorn.
  • New Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry spoke with Don Walker of the Journal-Sentinel about what fueled them to buy the club, their business philosophy, and their plan to land a new arena.
  • The Journal-Sentinel staff graded the Bucks‘ 2013/14 season and the report card isn’t pretty.  Milwaukee’s final grade is an F in part because the off-season moves to sign Larry Sanders and O.J. Mayo to long-term deals backfired in a hurry.  There weren’t many bright spots, but the trade to land Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton yielded decent results and the draft picks of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nate Wolters were promising.

Hoops Links: Knicks, Hawks, Wizards, Bucks

April 20 at 6:34pm CDT By Zach Links

On this date in 1986, Bulls guard Michael Jordan scored an NBA Playoff record 63 points, but the Bulls dropped a 135-131 double-overtime decision to the Celtics at Boston Garden in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round.  Jordan shot 22-of-41 from the field and 19-of-21 from the free throw line in his record performance, breaking Elgin Baylor’s previous mark of 61 points in a playoff game, set during the Lakers’ 126-121 road win at Boston in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals.  After the game, Boston’s Larry Bird shook his head and proclaimed “That was God disguised as Michael Jordan.

Got a great basketball blog post that you want to see featured on Hoops Links?  Send it to me at HoopsLinks@gmail.com.  Here’s this week’s look around the basketball blogosphere..

You can send your submissions for Hoops Links to Zach at HoopsLinks@gmail.com.

Tim Duncan To Play For “Couple” More Years?

April 20 at 4:39pm CDT By Zach Links

As the top-seeded Spurs look to bring another championship trophy home, questions persist about how long the current core will be able to stick together.  Manu Ginobili has admitted that, at one point, he considered calling it a career after this season and big man Tim Duncan has done the same.  However, after today’s game, Duncan told reporters that he only has “a couple more” playoff runs left in him (according to Marc SteIn of ESPN.com on Twitter) which would indicate that this season won’t be his last.

When asked to elaborate, Duncan said that he doesn’t “know what that number” is (link), but “a couple” would indicate that he feels he has at least two seasons left in the tank.  The future Hall of Famer will celebrate his 38th birthday on Friday and sounds intent to continue his career through age 40.

Earlier this month, Tony Parker told a French-language website that Duncan and Ginobili would return for another season in 2014/15.  Meanwhile, Coach Gregg Popovich, who once said that he’d call it quits when TD does, has walked those comments back.

Hoops Rumors Originals

April 20 at 3:40pm CDT By Zach Links

Here’s our look back at the original analysis generated by the Hoops Rumors staff this week..

Week In Review: 4/14/14 – 4/20/14

April 20 at 2:13pm CDT By Zach Links

Paul Pierce can envision playing for the Celtics again, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge can see Pierce returning to Boston, too, if the price and circumstances are right.  The 36-year-old Pierce will be a free agent in the summer, but the Nets would like to re-sign him, too.  More from the week that was..

Prospect Profile: Gary Harris

April 20 at 12:39pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The upcoming NBA Draft will have almost certainly have the lottery portion dominated by freshman, but teams looking for a solid shooting guard who can do a little bit of everything might find Michigan State’s Gary Harris to be the answer. The 6’4″ sophomore announced he was entering this year’s draft last week. “I expect Gary to be a high pick in the draft, but more importantly, I know that he is well prepared for a long career,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said in a released statement.

During the announcement Harris said, “The last two years have been the best of my life, but it’s time to follow my dream and declare for the NBA Draft. My two seasons at Michigan State have been an amazing experience. I have a lifetime of memories, including some incredible games in some incredible places, NCAA tournaments, and cutting down the nets after a Big Ten Tournament Championship. But most important are the friendships I’ve developed with my teammates. These are bonds that will last forever, especially the guys in my class. I can’t imagine a better group of guys to be around.”

In 35 games this season, Harris averaged 16.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.8 SPG in 32.3 minutes per night. His slash line was .429/.352/.810. In two seasons, Harris’ career numbers were 14.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 31.0 minutes per game. His career slash line was .440/.376/.788.

Harris is currently projected as a late lottery pick. NBA Draft.net projects him being taken eighth in their latest mock draft, CBSSports.com has him going 10th, Bleacher Report has him 11th, and Draft Express slots him 13th. Chad Ford of ESPN.com has Harris ranked as the 11th best prospect on his “Big Board.”

Harris is a well-rounded player who can do numerous things to help his team win on both ends of the court. He is one of the best offensive prospects in the draft, and a highly proficient scorer on the perimeter, despite the fact he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as he was a year ago. After shooting 43% from the three-point line as a freshman, his percentage dropped to 35% this year. Whether or not Harris can make the shots from deep more consistently in the NBA is a question that scouts are asking. One plus is that his high and quick release will not need much adjustment as he moves to playing against elite athletes in the NBA.

While most scouts thought of Harris as just a shooter after his freshman campaign, he worked hard in the weight room to develop his body and put on muscle. This bulk helps him to attack the rim and finish off the bounce and not be rattled by larger defenders in the paint. Harris is also able to create for himself with a quick two-dribble attack and is excellent at the catch-and-shoot game. He is also very solid coming off screens and is skilled at knowing the proper time to come off them for a jump shot, or drive to the rim.

Harris is a tenacious defensive player who has a good chance to translate his gifts to the professional level sooner than other 2014 first round prospects. His game is also more mature than his age as he will be only 19 on draft day. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten in steals, and eighth in defensive wins shares with 2.0. Harris is both disruptive and consistent enough on the defensive end that other teams have to account for him at all times.

One concern for Harris is his size. He is considered a small two guard at the next level, and could be taken advantage of by bigger, stronger, guards. He still has time to develop and fill out his frame, so he could increase his overall strength, but the height could be an issue if he’s a starter. Coming off the bench as a sixth man could offset his disadvantage and maximize his productivity.

Some scouts have opined that it’s “unrealistic” to think he’ll be a high-impact player right away, but he is a player without a glaring weakness. NBA executives like his size, strength, athleticism, scoring ability, defense and character. The biggest plus about Harris is that GMs already know what type of player he is, as well as what position he’ll play. He isn’t an elite athlete like a few of the top prospects in this year’s class, but he is a solid, steady player who will contribute in every facet of the game.

His upside and game have been compared to O.J. Mayo and J.R. Smith, but with a more solid character, and he’s regarded as much more coachable. Harris isn’t a player who will blow teams away during pre-draft workouts, but on film the nuances of his game will shine. He is almost certain to be taken in the lottery, and I believe he will become a solid pro, but not a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA. He’s a great value pick in the 10-15 range.

And-Ones: Celtics, Cleamons, Mudiay

April 20 at 12:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Jim Cleamons is interested in joining the Knicks organization now that Phil Jackson has taken over, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to the article, Cleamons would have interest in anything Jackson has to offer, including a position in the personnel department. Berman also writes that Cleamons is a big fan of Steve Kerr, and his ability to be a head coach because of his “quick learning curve.’’

More from around the league:

  • The Celtics season was a rough one in their first year of rebuilding, with the team finishing with a record of 25-57. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald hands out the final grades for the players and the organization.
  • Incoming SMU freshman Emmanuel Mudiay will be in the conversation for being the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • Dion Waiters said the firing of Cavs GM Chris Grant really affected him, writes Bob Finnan of The News Herald. Waiters said, “That’s a guy who took a chance on me, a young kid like myself coming from where I come from. He made my dream come true. You never want to see (anybody) get fired. He’s got a family. You’ve got to feed your kids. What could we have done differently? Did it take him getting fired for us to start playing the way we did? You never know. I know I took it hard because if we’d have been taking care of business like we were supposed to the beginning of the season, he would still be here.”
  • Jim Buss believes the Lakers future is bright, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Buss also promised to resign in a few years if the fortunes of the franchise weren’t reversed. He said, “There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line.