Summer League has come and gone, with last night’s epic finale between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Chicago Bulls. This was our last chance before training camp starts in September to really talk about new NBA basketball “stuff.” From here on it, it’ll be rumors and speculations, the occasional veteran signing, and, if you want to count this as NBA related, the USA Basketball team playing in the Olympics in August.
Speaking of speculation and rumors, let’s talk about the Golden State Warriors and their plan to make it back to the NBA Finals next year. We all know who the veteran guys and stars are on the team, but what about their rookies, specifically Patrick McCaw? The Warriors bought the rights to McCaw for $2.4 million from the Milwaukee Bucks in last month’s draft and a lot of Warrior fans have been wondering if the investment will payoff.
McCaw mentioned during his introductory press conference with the Warriors that he likes to watch how defensive players, like Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, play in the NBA and that he watches “a lot of Shaun Livingston.” From what I saw in Summer League, McCaw could easily be another Shaun Livingston, just with more range.
McCaw’s got long arms — 6’10” wingspan — and really enjoys playing defense, which is an attitude that is hard to teach. He shot 36% from three at UNLV and ended up shooting 38% from deep in Summer League. He’s also great at shooting off the dribble and as a pick and roll ball handler with a defender close to him.
One play in Summer League that reminded me of Steph Curry and his pick and roll genius was when the big Serbian Ognjen Kuzmic set a high screen right after the half-court stripe for McCaw. Andrew Bogut used to set these high picks all the time for Steph and they usually resulted in a pull-up three. So what did McCaw do in this instance? He dribbled right around Kuzmic and pulled up for a long two.
The Warriors love to shoot threes and run in transition and McCaw will be able to fit right into that gameplan. With 13 made three-pointers during this Summer League run, he’s currently tied for 2nd in made three pointers by a Warrior in a single Summer League. McCaw’s also got great speed in the transition game and can step into shots and make them as a trailer on plays. When Steph flies down the court and the defense collapses onto him, McCaw will be there to make a pull-up, catch and shoot three.
Besides the need to put on more weight (McCaw stands at 6’7” but only weighs 180 lbs), McCaw will need to gain some humility when it comes to basketball. He’s got a ton of confidence coming out of UNLV and has been quoted as saying “I just have a great all-around game…there isn’t anything I can’t do on the basketball court.” In response to having to guard Steph and Klay in practice, he said “Oh yeah, I’m gonna be perfectly fine. I can guard anybody. That’s how I feel.”
Some may call it cocky, some may call it confidence, I call it cocky-confidence. A lot of young draftees think that since they got drafted into the NBA, that they belong in the NBA. McCaw will need to walk the fine line between cocky and confident if he wants to gell with a team like the Warriors, whose success has been built on trust and unselfishness.
So yes, McCaw will fit in fine with the Warriors. He’s a scorer-shooter with long arms who has the energy and confidence to play great defense. If he can fill out and learn to love the Warriors pass-happy, team-first offense, he will shine as a nice role-player off the bench. This time come next year, people will be saying the same thing Jerry West said on KNBR 680: “People are gonna be sorry they didn't draft him.”