Michigan sophomore Mitch McGary will likely be announcing his NBA decision in the coming days. Since he is arguably the only major Big Ten prospect yet to announce, it seemed like a good time to have a roundtable to evaluate his NBA Draft potential and predict whether he will make the jump to the pros or stay in Ann Arbor.
Here is the list of today's roundtable contributors:
- Thomas Beindit (@tbeindit) - BTPowerhouse & Wolverine247
- Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) - Maize And Go Blue
- Chris Kay (@ItsGonnaBeOhKay) - BTPowerhouse
- Zach Travis (@zach_travis)- Maize N' Brew
Before we get started though, I asked Ricky O'Donnell to evaluate Mitch McGary as an NBA prospect. O'Donnell writes for SBNation about both the NBA and college basketball, so his perspective helps give a better understanding about what McGary has to gain or lose by heading to the NBA:
Mitch McGary will never again get the opportunity he passed up a year ago, when Michigan's run to the national championship game would have made him a top 20 selection in the NBA draft, if not a lottery pick. McGary chose to return to school, and his valiant decision was rewarded only with a back injury that limited him to eight games on the year.
While McGary hardly saw the court as a sophomore, I'm not sure his NBA future changed all that much, assuming he can still get the chance a lofty draft position would have afforded him a year ago. McGary is 6'10, 250 lbs. with a 7-foot wingspan and a solid 18-foot jump shot. The fact is there simply aren't many people equipped to handle being an NBA front court player, but McGary is. He's no star, he's probably not even a starter, but there's the chance McGary can stick around the NBA for a long time and make a bunch of money if someone gives him the chance to play. As a second round pick, or even one at the very end of the first, McGary could bring solid value to whoever drafts him.
O'Donnell's statements give a good perspective on the difficultly of McGary's decision. There is certainly a lot of potential there, but things have to land right in order to work out well. With this in mind, let's get to our roundtable contributors and see what they have to say about McGary's upcoming decision:
Question #1 - Mitch McGary will likely be announcing his 2014 NBA Draft decision in the coming days. How do you see him as an NBA prospect?
Thomas Beindit - McGary is an interesting NBA prospect for several reasons. First, he's not considered a "slam dunk" prospect (if there really are any) at the next level and will have to figure out how to be used. His 6'10" stature and physical build will fit in very well in the NBA, but the concern is whether he will fit in more as a 4 or a 5. He has the tools, but for which position? McGary plays with a ton of energy and is one of the best pure rebounders you will see on the court. Add in a physical nature that can intimidate opponents and the ability to set pounding screens and he can be very useful. Even though he's not 7 foot, he will be able to snag rebounds in key situations. McGary is not necessarily that athletic, but he definitely can run in transition and has enough length to get plenty of blocks. During the 2012-13 season, fans saw the emergency of his offensive game as well and he was starting to develop a nice interior shot. If he can continue to develop this shot and add more consistent post moves, he definitely will be good enough to land and stay on an NBA roster. In the long-term, I think he will likely develop into a solid bench guy that can come in and provide solid defense, rebounding, and energy. If he does develop his shot, he definitely could turn into a starter at the next level.
Chris Kay - As an NBA player I would say at worst he's a high intensity defender and rebounder. Just look at guys like Reggie Evans and then Tyson Chandler. Evans can only rebound and play defense while Chandler has averaged 9 points and 9 rebounds in his career while playing great defense. I think McGary could be a Tyson Chandler type player in the NBA without the DPOY potential. At worst, he never gets his offensive game going and becomes an off the bench rebounder and that's it (like Evans).
Currently, he has the feet to be great on the pick and roll and he can finish well at the rim. With the way the NBA is defensively right now, I could easily see him finishing a few easy buckets a game because of his hands and ability to move. Now, in terms of sheer offensive presence, he doesn't seem to be a major threat right now. He will have to put in major work to improve his jump shot and post moves. Until he shows a more polished offensive game then you can't possibly think he's a 10 points a night kind of player.
Drew Hallett - Assuming McGary remains relatively healthy, I think he will be a significant role player in the NBA for the next decade. McGary has the tools and the motor to make an immediate impact off of the bench. He will continue to be a monster on the glass because few stats translate better from college basketball to the NBA than rebounding. This will allow him to score easy second-chance points. With his mobility, he will flourish in pick-and-roll and transition situations. He also will be a decent post defender because of his strength and rare ability to force turnovers on entry passes. But I do not think McGary will be a full-time starter unless he develops his offensive repertoire. He has few, if any, post moves, has an iffy midrange jumper, and lacks the burst to consistently finish above the rim. McGary will be 22 in June and is closer to his ceiling than most draft prospects. I do not believe McGary will develop into anything other than a spark plug off the bench. And that is only if he remains healthy.
Zach Travis - He is a total crapshoot as an NBA prospect.
Between the injuries and the dominating stretch in last year's tournament, the sample size on McGary as a high level basketball player is still prohibitively small, and most of his draft profile is based on the inertia that still remains from his high school recruitment.
McGary has shown enough high level ability as a rebounder and defender while also flashing just enough offensive polish to leave people drooling. However, if the 2012-13 season proved anything it is that Mitch McGary's inherent Mitch-ness is predicated on his ability to be a 6'10 center that moves like a 6'4 guard. If the quickness and explosiveness isn't there on a consistent basis then all the sudden you're looking at another big guy that uninspiringly plugs a hole in the middle. The only way McGary is anything but a completely unknown commodity in the draft is if he sticks around for another year at Michigan and actually plays the entire time without injury. The tools are there, but there are too many questions too.
Question #2 - If you had to make a projection where McGary would be selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, where would it be?
Thomas Beindit - The mock drafts imply that McGary is a "borderline" 1st or 2nd Round pick. However, I don't really agree with this. I think if things fall perfectly into line, McGary can sneak into the 1st Round, but will very likely be a 2nd Round pick if he declares. The key thing here to remember is that we're talking about a prospect with a very limited sample size that is coming off back surgery. When you're a sophomore that has arguably 10 games or fewer that really scream "NBA 1st Rounder," it's hard to justify why you would take him in the 1st Round and that doesn't even account for the injury concerns. If the injury cloud isn't there, I think he would be a 1st Round guy and maybe somebody still takes a chance on him there, but, realistically, I'm having trouble seeing how a GM justifies taking him that high with all of those questions. Having said that, Cleveland did draft Anthony Bennett #1 overall, so there's always a chance something crazy could happen.
Chris Kay - If McGary were to leave for the NBA Draft I would have to think he gets picked no higher than 20. He has potential and that should keep him in the first round, but anythin ghigher than 20 would really surprise me.
Drew Hallett - Most mock drafts project McGary as a late-first- or second-round pick. But McGary is in a unique situation. McGary was hyped as a late lottery pick last season because of one six-game stretch. The six-game stretch just happened to be in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Then his draft stock dropped this year not because of a decline in his performance, but because of injuries. No one really knows what to expect from McGary in the NBA because he has had so little production at Michigan. If McGary can prove in draft workouts that he has regained his 2013 NCAA Tournament form, I think he may jump into the late first round between No. 22 and No. 30. If he cannot, though, I think he will be taken in the second round between No. 35 and No. 45.
Zach Travis - I can't imagine anyone takes a flier on McGary before the second round, but once you're talking the 30-45 pick range some GM out there will be intrigued by the risk/reward. This is probably good news for McGary, as it will put him in a situation where he won't be counted on to contribute right away.
Question #3 - McGary may or may not be available for NBA workouts. Do you think this plays a factor?
Thomas Beindit - NBA workouts are an interesting event. Many believe they do not play a big role in the draft process, but I completely disagree. I don't think the workouts play a big role for your "top end" guys, but for your late 1st Round guys and especially for your 2nd Round prospects, the workouts are a major part in deciding who you're going to take on draft night. Considering where McGary's projected, it's not hard to see him jumping up quite a bit if he was able to workout and looked good while doing it. If he has to sit out workouts, that's only going to raise more questions about a prospect that already has more than enough.
Chris Kay - This should play a factor when it comes to his draft status. Most times, NBA scouts like seeing how players perform after rehab is complete and they're "ready to go." If McGary can't participate in workouts then I find it tough to believe many teams will have confidence when considering him.
Drew Hallett - Definitely. How could it not? As I wrote in the previous section, there is little tape of McGary playing at a high level. Plus, he is recovering from a significant lower-back injury that forced him to miss most of his sophomore season. McGary needs to prove to NBA executives and scouts that he is once again capable of playing like he did in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. If he does not work out, or does not show that he is fully healthy in these workouts, NBA GMs will be very wary of selecting an injury-prone big man like McGary in the first round.
Zach Travis - It wouldn't necessarily be a huge factor if McGary had any established production at the college level. He doesn't, and this is the primary reason I can't see anyone taking him in the first round. The risk is much too high for a virtual unknown.
Question #4 - There are rumors that McGary has been skipping exams. How much credit do you give these?
Thomas Beindit - I am not going to say these rumors are ridiculous, but the weight that some are giving them is just crazy. First, despite what many are saying, it's not like there was an official report or statement taken to verify these rumors. For all we know, the people claiming he was not there simply missed him in the room. At Michigan, an exam room could feature over a 100 students. Second, there's no way to really verify whether McGary simply made the exam up in a different setting or that he is not going to make it up later. Essentially, it's a rumor that implies a lot, which is taken without much context. On top of that, even if he missed an exam, so what? We have all heard the story about a classmate sleeping in too late or having an emergency come up. I am not trying to make excuses, but taking a questionable rumor and turning it into a report is a pretty big leap.
Chris Kay - Skipping exams because of the draft? I doubt it. I chalk it up to being a college student with a whole lot on his plate. Not saying that he can't handle everything going on, but juggling academics, basketball, rehab, girls, rehab, and then more girls is tough to do.
Drew Hallett - I will give credit to the rumors that McGary missed an exam. I will give little credit, though, that this means he is declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft. He may have had to miss an exam because of other responsibilities, which I am sure he has a bunch of as a basketball player at the University of Michigan. It is not as if he cannot take his exam on an alternate date. McGary may be leaving, but no one should point to this as substantial evidence.
Zach Travis - I'll reserve judgment until I see the trash bag dorm room pictures.
But in all seriousness, this is just the kind of stuff that you have to filter out. Nobody has any inside information so everybody is looking for a hint somewhere.
Question #5 - Should McGary stay or go?
Thomas Beindit - At the end of the day, I lean with the other guys here. This is clearly McGary's decision and in the long run, that's the only thing that matters. Having said that, from my knowledge, I think McGary should return to Ann Arbor. A 2nd Round pick doesn't guarantee a player a whole lot and I struggle to see his status dropping next year. Yes, he could get re-injured, but you would hope that he would honestly assess that chance next year and not simply believe it will happen because it happened in the past. People also keep discussing his age, but being 23 for next year's draft isn't exactly as big as some make it. NBA careers are usually pretty short and there are several major prospects including the Big Ten's own Adreian Payne that are 23 this year. Being 23 is far from unprecedented. Sure, coming back is a risk, but so is going pro right now. No contracts are guaranteed in the 2nd Round, so if McGary ends up drafted there, his NBA career could start as a free agent. It's about choosing which risk you are more willing to take. Right now, I tend to lean towards the risks associated with returning to school.
Chris Kay - He should stay. I don't think he'll be picked nearly high enough to get the money worth leaving for. He has two years left to bust out and honestly with just one more season he could get a whole lot better offensively. I believe he'd benefit more monetarily and as a player by staying one more season.
Drew Hallett - I am really not a fan of this question. McGary is the only one that truly knows where his best interests lie. He also likely has received as much information as he can from NBA executives, scouts, and coaches. I have none of that information. Who am I to tell McGary what he should or should not choose with regards to such a life-changing decision? Sure, I could say that McGary should stay because he could be a lottery pick 2015 in a weaker draft class with a healthy, strong junior season. I could also say that he should leave because further injury and being 23 years old before the 2015 NBA Draft may cause his stock to plummet. All I will say is that McGary should do what is best for him, his family, and his career.
Zach Travis - He should do what he thinks is best for him.
I tend to think that staying around is a good idea, if for no other reason than a full off-season to recover followed by a full year playing at his best physical shape will answer many of the questions surrounding his value in the draft, and even with the age concerns this should be enough to get him into the first round where he can at least grab a guaranteed contract.
However, you can make the case that if he is serious about pursuing his NBA dream, that now is the time to do it.
Question #6 - What's your gut prediction on whether McGary will declare for the 2014 NBA Draft?
Thomas Beindit - McGary's decision is a tough one to get a firm handle on. Agree or disagree with their decisions, I felt that Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III were both headed to the NBA Draft. Originally, I felt McGary would return, but I have definitely lost some of my confidence in that projection. I'm not one to read into exam rumors or player quotes, but things definitely appear to be trending toward the NBA. Right now, I think I will stay with my prediction that McGary will return to Ann Arbor, but I have to admit, it's with very little confidence.
Chris Kay - My gut says he stays. He can't seriously think that after back surgery he will be picked high in the NBA Draft. Also, not that dominance is the only thing that matters when scouting, he really has only been dominant in one portion of his career - the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Drew Hallett - I think McGary will leave. Initially, I thought he would stay. I believed he would want a chance to jump back into the lottery after his lower-back injury caused his draft stock to fall. You would think I would feel better about that because McGary did not announce his decision when Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III declared officially for the 2014 NBA Draft. Not the case. There have been recent comments made by John Beilein, Caris LeVert, and Spike Albrecht about next year's team that curiously did not include McGary when they should. Plus, I have heard other things - nothing concrete and not related to missed exams - that indicate McGary might be leaving. I would not be surprised with either decision by McGary, but I expect him to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
Zach Travis - I think he leaves. Just a gut feeling. The way I see it he has put a lot of thought into this, and I think that is a sign that he wants to leave but isn't sure. To be clear: I know absolutely nothing and could be wrong. Just a wild guess.
Thanks to all our Roundtable contributors for helping out. Mitch McGary's decision in the coming days will certainly be a major and interesting one. The NBA Draft deadline is April 27th.