Now that the NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone, and while us fans get over the shock of Cleveland landing it’s third #1 overall pick in the past four years (the NBA gives Dan Gilbert yet another gift for losing LeBron, and another young player to entice him to return), the mock drafts are out and as a Lakers fan I’m pondering who should they take with the #7 overall selection. We know the names that could be in play at #7: Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, Dante Exum possibly falling if his agent (Rob Pelinka who also represents Kobe) plays hardball, but a player that I like and I think would be a fine addition to the Lakers squad is Creighton small forward Doug McDermott.
McDermott, who played for his father at Creighton, is an elite shooter who also proved at the recent NBA Draft Combine that he has enough athletic talent to hang with the big boys in the NBA. His 36.5 inch vertical was #18 overall out of the 60 athletes that participated in the combine, and his agility drills had him ranked in the top 15 out of the 60 prospects that worked out. While he is not an elite athlete, the Iowa native, is an excellent shooter, has a deep range on his three point shot, works hard, and since he is the son of a coach he has a high basketball I.Q. The knock on McDermott is that while he is 6’8″ he is a bit of a tweener. He may not be fast enough to defend small forwards in the NBA, and he may not be strong enough to defend the power forwards.
However, how can you not love a guy that was proven at the college level? He’s the consensus National Player of the Year this past season, a 3 time All-American, NCAA scoring champion, and the Big East Player of the Year this past season. This year was the first edition of the new Big East, and some people didn’t think Creighton could hang with the traditional powers of Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Marquette etc… Some critics expected that the tough hard nose ball of the Big East would beat up on the shooter, but McDermott handled it with ease as Creighton finished as the runner up to regular season champion Villanova, and to tournament champion, Providence.
To be honest McDermott reminds me a lot of Stephen Curry. Why? Coming out of college I didn’t think Curry had the goods. Despite being Dell’s son and a great shooter, I didn’t think Curry had the athleticism to handle the pro game. Boy did he prove me wrong! I went from destroying his prospects on a website that I will not name, to eating crow on that same website months later. I feel McDermott will do the same with whatever team he lands with.
So why do I like him for the Lakers? While the Lakers do not have a head coach, so they don’t know what offense they will execute, and while many analysts believe that whoever the Lakers draft at #7 will eventually be traded for a veteran, I think McDermott would be perfect playing alongside Kobe. I can’t see Doug being turned off, or becoming a shrunken violet next to Kobe’s demanding personality. I also think his shooting ability, his intellectual ability, and being a gym rat would be more endearing to Kobe than some of the other selections being mentioned with the #7 pick. For some reason I can’t see Kobe wanting to kick Doug’s ass because Doug isn’t as dedicated to the game as he is. Also, the Lakers really need shooters. Ryan Kelly was a revelation as a 2nd round pick of the team last season, but beyond him the team really doesn’t have any consistent shooters. Adding another big man that can stretch the floor (Ryan is 6’11”) would only help Kobe out in this stage of the game. If Kobe sucks in defenders, he can kick it out to one of the big men. If the defenders focus in on McDermott and Kelly, Kobe can take it to the hole.
I may be wrong, and I welcome the arguments for and against McDermott, but I can’t help but imagine that McDermott’s #3 jersey would look excellent in Purple and Gold.
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