A former lottery pick, the clock on Doug McDermott‘s NBA career is ticking. Could this be the year he takes the next step?
Doug McDermott was projected to be a versatile scorer that could hurt opposing teams in a variety of ways. His size, outside range, and mid-range touch had NBA scouts taking notice.
But he’s struggled, averaging 8 0 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game and 0.7 assists per game as he enters the fourth year of his professional career.
So far McDermott’s 2017-18 campaign with the New York Knicks has had its ups and downs. The pressure to perform is certainly apparent after McDermott was a key piece in the deal to send Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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It’s no secret to anyone that this is Kristaps Porzingis‘ team. The Knicks will only go as far as he takes them. So far, so good, as Porzingis is putting up career numbers. Teams will be hyper-focused on him throughout the season, which will open up scoring opportunities for McDermott.
On the other hand, McDermott did play with the reigning NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, last season and only managed to average 6.6 points per game. Changing teams mid-season can be extremely difficult because guys are trying to learn how to play with one another on the fly. McDermott himself stated that he felt frustrated with the way he was being utilized. His role on the Thunder was strictly as a catch-and-shoot guy, but there’s more to his game.
The opportunity for a career year is there as well. McDermott is part of a second unit for the Knicks that is still attempting to find its footing. Kyle O’Quinn and Frank Ntilikina are important pieces, but they lack the scoring touch that McDermott is starting to show.
O’Quinn is capable of scoring, but he relies on offensive rebounding to find a lot of his shots. Ntilikina has the potential to develop into a capable scorer, but he’s a 19-year-old rookie, so his offensive game will likely remain inconsistent. Michael Beasley has the talent to put up points in bunches, but there is no telling what planet he’s on sometimes.
McDermott’s newfound aggressiveness was evident in the Knicks 116-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday. He scored 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting, including 3-for-6 from deep. Despite an off shooting night, he made some good moves and had a few decent looks. If nothing else, this shows that he’s ready to take on the scoring load for that second unit.
The 2017-18 season is still young, but there are some positives in what we are seeing from McDermott. Six games is an incredibly small sample size to examine. Nonetheless, these numbers are something that Knicks fans should keep an eye on.
McDermott’s career PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 10.6 falls well below the league average of 15. Through six games, McDermott has posted a 14.2 PER.
TS% (True Shooting Percentage) takes two-point field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws into account to measure each players’ shooting efficiency. McDermott’s season TS% of .615 is .062 points higher than his career average of .553.
His AST% (Assist Percentage) and TRB% (Total Rebound Percentage) are well above his career totals. This signals McDermott’s improvement in his overall game. While his calling card will be off the bench scoring, no one will complain if he develops into more of an all-around contributor.
Again, these improvements in advanced stats are part of a very small sample size, but they are something that can be used to monitor McDermott’s development this season. He came into the league as an accomplished scorer at the NCAA level. It has taken him a few years to find his footing in the NBA, but this could be the season where we see him take the next step in his development.
Porzingis is going to score his points and there is no doubt who the first option is. The second unit scoring for the Knicks is a different story. Instant offense off the bench is a necessity for this team and don’t be surprised when Doug McDermott fills that role.