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NBA PM: McDermott Facing Big Criticism

Doug McDermott isn’t the prized pick of this draft, but shouldn’t be be? Knicks add big names to search for head coach…

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McDermott Pushing Back Against Unfair Criticism

When it comes to the NBA Draft Combine, teams are given their opportunity to gape at some players’ outstanding measurables—features like vertical leap, wingspan, and body fat percentages, among others. But not all of the players projected to be selected in the first round of next month’s draft leap off the page when it comes to those kinds of numbers.

Creighton forward Doug McDermott, for example, is easy to overlook because he’s not particularly athletic, isn’t particularly young, doesn’t have the body type to bang with most NBA power forwards, and certainly doesn’t possess the kind of rebounding abilities that teams covet from that position, so it’s easy to move past him in favor of a younger, more athletic player with a higher ceiling.

The problem about focusing on McDermott’s negatives, however, is that it can be easy to forget just how good he really is. Yes, the nation’s leader scorer last year can fill up a stat sheet and can definitely knock down an outside shot, but there’s a lot more to his game than just offense, as he explained Thursday at the Combine.

“People look at, I scored a lot of points in college but I think that overshadowed some of the other things,” McDermott said. “I’m looked at as not a great defender, but I feel like I can really prove some people wrong once I get in front of them at workouts. My ability to compete on a night-to-night basis, I think they’ll really see that when I get in front of them.”

Coming off a season in which he scored 26.7 PPG on 52.6 FG% and 44.9% from deep, McDermott is a player projected to fall somewhere in the 10-20 range on draft night, a fact that hardly seems fair for someone that was so recently voted the consensus National Player of the Year.

He might not be a star, but he does possess a skill (three-point shooting) that is so important in today’s NBA, which means he could have a very long, very successful career doing that one thing exceptionally well, if nothing else. His NBA comparables predict a long pro future in this league, if they end up proving true.

“I like to watch a lot of (Kyle) Korver, and Wally Szczerbiak has been a good [comparison]. He was a little stronger, so I need to get a little bigger, but I like to watch those guys,” McDermott said.

Not all of his inspirations are big, niche shooting forwards, however. “It might sound crazy but I watch a lot of Paul Pierce,” he said. “I like his footwork. He is not the quickest guy in the world but he really knows how to use his body and knows how to use angles to score.”

And finding a way to score consistently and efficiently is what will keep McDermott in the league long-term. He’ll be a great fit for someone, but it has to be with a team that sees him as an asset with a ceiling, not a four-year college player with no room left to grow and no real place in the NBA.

“Most college kids are interviewing for jobs,” he said. “This is our job interview. We have to look at it that way. Some of the days are long, it’s pretty hectic but that’s a really good problem to have.”

Coming off a nation-leading scoring campaign, despite his lack of athleticism and youth, is also a pretty good problem to have. He won’t be drafted before the exciting, more youthful athletic kids in this draft, but he’ll get his shot to prove that sometimes, the most important measurables for an offensive-minded forward are points and field goal percentage, and in those regards, McDermott is an unquestioned lottery talent.

Knicks Coaching Search Expanding?

Steve Kerr had every opportunity to reunite with Phil Jackson and coach next season’s New York Knicks, but when he chose to skipper the Golden State Warriors instead, it left the Knicks with no real Plan B and a still-gaping need for a splashy head coach hire.

It’s apparently taken a few days for New York to recover from the jilting, as rumors of new candidates are only just now spilling forth, and as predicted, the options are pretty interesting.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Friday that former Knick and Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has been added to the “tentative list” of potential head coaching candidates Phil Jackson is compiling. They think he’s someone that can run some version of the triangle offense, but who also is someone that the players will rally behind and enjoy playing for.

Stephen A. Smith reported on ESPN Radio Friday that Phil Jackson also had reached out to Derek Fisher’s rep, but as he’s still in the midst of one-last championship run as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he’s not really in a place to do much interviewing at the moment.

Berman also reports that the Phil Jackson is interested in finding a way to tie Scottie Pippen to the New York franchise, perhaps as an assistant coach. Pippen is currently a team ambassador with the Chicago Bulls, but would likely welcome an opportunity to take a more active role with an NBA team.

More names are likely to leak in the coming days, but it’s starting to look like Phil Jackson is putting together a solid game plan for life after Steve Kerr. Now it’s just a matter of actually hiring somebody.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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