Each year, Zach Lowe of ESPN names his “Luke Walton All-Stars,” a group of players who appeared to be borderline NBA players until finding a role – and a team – that suits them. This year’s installment of Lowe’s Luke Walton All-Stars serves as a handful of mini-profiles on his choices and features a number of fascinating tidbits on those players.
For instance, according to Lowe, Doug McDermott – who has been traded four times since being drafted in 2014 – has gotten into the habit of donating clothes to Goodwill as the annual trade deadline approaches to make packing easier in case he gets moved again.
As Lowe details, McDermott was worried a trade to Dallas in February 2018 might be his “last chance” in the NBA, but the sharpshooter credits Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle for helping him play loose and urging him to not hesitate to launch three-pointers. The Mavs wanted to re-sign McDermott in 2018 but didn’t have the cap flexibility to do so, and Carlisle encouraged him to take the Pacers‘ three-year, $22MM offer, Lowe adds.
Lowe’s story is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the highlights from the piece:
- The Mavericks had to beat out the Heat and Pelicans to sign Dorian Finney-Smith as an undrafted free agent in 2016, per Lowe. The three-year deal with a $100K guarantee was “probably more than the Mavs wanted to offer,” since Finney-Smith seemed at the time like a long shot to make the regular season roster, but it turned into a great investment.
- Despite a history of productivity, Pistons big man Christian Wood bounced around the NBA due to reputational concerns, including a perception that he was an unreliable communicator, according to Lowe, who says there was gossip around the NBA about Wood splurging on a Bentley after banking “very little” NBA money. “There is stuff in my background that affected my reputation,” Wood said. “It was never basketball-related.”
- Earlier in his career, Marquese Chriss was insistent about his preference to play power forward, but the Warriors‘ big man now admits it’s not his ideal position, per Lowe. “I was naive,” Chriss said. “I realize now the skill set I have is better for (center).”
- Former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams has now adjusted to a much more modest role with the Magic, in which he focuses on playing lockdown defense and “hitting singles” (rather than swinging for the fences) on offense, according to Lowe. “It wasn’t easy,” Carter-Williams said. “I still believe I can do more. But this is part of maturing. Maybe one day I’ll get a bigger role and do what I did in Philadelphia. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m happy I’m playing.”