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Big Ten NBA Roundup: Mitch McGary Making an Instant Impact for the Thunder

Former Michigan center Mitch McGary has had a few brilliant performances in the wake of Steven Adams' injury.

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Prior to last Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City power forward and former Michigan Wolverine Mitch McGary has been nonexistent in the Thunder rotation, having played only eight minutes all season. However, with Steven Adamshand injury, which will likely keep him out for three weeks and possibly longer, gave Mitch McGary his first opportunity for significant minutes.

So far, McGary has surpassed expectations. Although three games is a very small sample size, McGary's performance thus far has been incredible. In 48 minutes total over his two games, McGary has scored 36 points and grabbed twenty rebounds, with double doubles in both contests. In terms of efficiency, McGary has shot over 66 percent (14 for 21) from the field. Additionally, McGary has shot 80 percent on his free throw attempts (8 for 10). The free throw percentage is more surprising, considering McGary only made 51.3 percent of his attempts during his two years at Michigan. In his third game last night against the Grizzlies, McGary struggled against one of the best frontcourt duos in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and fouled out in only 15 minutes.

Despite McGary's brilliant early performance, it is very possible that his best is yet to come. Coming into college, McGary was one of the best recruits in the nation and performed well when healthy at Michigan. While his offensive game is still a work in progress, McGary's energy has helped him in the NBA. What's makes McGary's performance even more ridiculous is that McGary isn't close to being at his peak physical shape and he has only played 71 minutes in the NBA.

What Does This Mean Going Forward?

McGary's efficiency numbers, such as his shooting percentages and per-minute numbers, are unlikely to be sustained long term. However, it is likely that McGary will at least be a part of the rotation even after Steven Adams returns. McGary, like many young big men, is having trouble with committing fouls rather than playing legal defense. This problem plagued DeMarcus Cousins early in his career and limited his production.

Skill-wise, McGary can definitely provide the energy as a rebounder similar to Anderson Varejao or Kenneth Faried. One underrated aspect of McGary's game is his ability to put the ball on the floor. His quick dribble drive moves give McGary an ability to create separation and take shots going towards the basket, which will raise his free throw rate and allow for efficient shots near the rim. With excellent offensive pieces around McGary, his energy and offensive rebounding will help Oklahoma City's offense and depth. If McGary can stay out of foul trouble, his emergence will be an unexpected lift to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Other Big Ten NBA News...

As reported on BT Powerhouse previously, Atlanta Hawks forward Adreian Payne has been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Payne has not been able to find a spot in the deep Atlanta Hawks rotation. Joining a young and rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves team will give Payne a better opportunity to make an impact. Although he has been a disappointment thus far, Payne is still in his first season and has a lot of room for growth.

Also, the NBA All Star Game will be taking place this weekend.  Make sure to check out BTPowerhouse's look at the former Big Ten players participating in the action right here.