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 might not want to chance things yet again and decide to enter 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.