2014 NBA Draft: Doug McDermott has an elite skill and lots of question marks

No player in the current class has a more prolific college track record than former Creighton forward Doug McDermott. But while the NCAA’s fifth all-time leading scorer comes to the NBA with tremendous accolades and a terrific nickname to boot, the question still remains as to what he really is at the next level.

Strengths

Let’s start with the obvious.

The 2014 Consensus National Player of the Year can flat out score the basketball.

Without a game logged in the league, he’s already a professional level shooter, with nice touch from just about anywhere on the court. He excels facing up, with his back to the basket, coming off screens or pulling up in transition.

Off-balance or on-balance, it really doesn’t seem to matter –  scored 1.22 points per possession on jump shots in 2014.

Suffice it to say, McDermott might be the most comparable frontcourt prospect to former NBA Finals and league MVP Dirk Nowitzki when it comes to touch with the jumper since the German was selected ninth overall in the 1998 draft.

Although his bread and butter clearly lies with the silky, smooth shot, McDermott is a more than adequate player in the post, who can score with either hand at the basket or in the paint.

He faces up well, consistently hits jump hooks and keeps opposing defenses on edge any time the ball finds his hands on the low block or mid-post area.

Weaknesses

For being the star that he was for four years at Creighton, McDermott was also the ultimate hustle player, especially at the defensive end.

But while he had a knack for making a difference by doing the little things, the three-time All-American was limited in his abilities as a defender.

He’s not very athletic, possesses a less-than-stellar wing span (6-foot-8 ½) and can’t really guard either forward position with any regularity.

While his penchant for scoring makes him an absolute asset at the offensive end, his lack of explosion on the glass and lack quickness as an on-ball defender make him a complete liability at the other end.

X-Factor

Offensively, any general manager can plug McDermott into their respective lineup and find success with the Grand Forks, N.D. native offensively. His skills translate really well, and teams will be hard-pressed to find a better pure shooter in this draft than McDermott.

With that stand, if the reigning Big East Player of the Year wants to have an extended career in the league — one that might include time as a starter – he needs to find a way to become at the very least a better rebound.

Size and athleticism can’t be taught, but he’s going to play extended minutes at power forward, McDermott needs to transform into at least a reliable rebounder.

Part of that is strength and the other part is instincts – two traits he lacks currently when it comes to boarding.

How he would fit with the Suns

Ultimately, McDermott won’t likely make it to No. 14, as teams inside or around the top-10 will be more than happy to bank on his offensive-minded game and notoriety.

He’s an easy sell to a fan base of a struggling organization.

If, however, Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was able to parlay the No. 14 and No. 18 picks into a top-10 selection, McDermott would potentially make sense.

Although Phoenix has its fair share of tweeners, in particular the Morris twins, McDermott is a more-polished scorer than both of the former first-round picks and fits in much better with transition-oriented guards like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.

Defensively, he would certainly be a project for Mike Longabardi, but that can be said about numerous players being considered in the lottery at this time.

If he’s available at No. 14, the Suns shouldn’t think twice. But as mentioned above, unless an unforeseen deal takes place, Dougie McBuckets won’t be taking his talents to the Valley.

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