As a lifelong Pacers fan and relatively new NBA writer/podcaster, I’ve tried to avoid writing or speaking about Indiana in excess in order to maintain a non-biased and omniscient view of the league. However, Doug McDermott’s play and growth this year has not gotten enough praise, so I hope to shine some light on his season and impact for the Pacers.
At face value, McDermott’s stats don’t pop out at you, 10ppg/2.7rpg/1.1apg on 47% from the field and 44% from three, but he more than outplays statistics.
McDermott has been a plus shooter and a skilled offensive wing since entering the league in 2014, but this year he has become one of the most reliable offensive weapons for the Pacers. He’s gone from a good catch and shoot guy to a lethal specialist as the difficulty of his shots has increased without taking a hit on efficiency (He’s nearly eclipsed his career high in non-corner threes taken in only 44 games this season). Here’s a prime example:
This play has become a safety valve for one of the best bench units in the NBA (6.4 netRating). Doug works perfectly in tandem with Domantas Sabonis, routinely running dribble hand-offs leading to threes like the one above. That is an extremely difficult shot to take and make and is very reminiscent of the way we’ve seen Kyle Korver fly off screens since seemingly the NBA/ABA merger.
McDermott’s evolution into a more dynamic shooter has opened up other scoring avenues for him as well as the rest of the offense. The gravity of McDermott’s shooting, or the way his ability draws defenders, has elevated Indiana’s spacing to the tenth degree. Opposing players can’t afford to go under screens set for him and are forced to chase over them in order to try and prevent open shots. Sabonis is one of the top screen setters in the league, so this creates an incredibly hard to defend action in the offense. McDermott is getting to the rim at a higher rate than he ever has in his career and is finishing with regularity. He’s been incredible at reading the floor and quickly deciding whether to shoot or drive to the basket for an easier look.
McDermott lacks the physical tools to be a great defensive player, but he always scraps on that end and finds ways to come up with timely rebounds. He has quietly become one of the most impactful role players in the league and he’s such a joy to watch. There’s a grace in the way Doug runs off screens and releases the ball almost before the ball an even settle. He’s not going to throw down a 360, or swat a shot into the sixth row, but Doug McDermott is a winning player on a successful team, and more people need to know about it (He also should be in the three point contest but don’t get me started).
What do you think of McDermott and the Pacers? Who’s another player you love watching that seems to go unnoticed? Let me know down below!