Doug McDermott busca un hogar definitivo en los Dallas Mavericks

Los Dallas Mavericks se movieron en el pasado trade deadline, dando un paso más en su apuesta por el futuro al adquirir una segunda ronda del próximo Draft y al alero de 26 años de edad Doug McDermott.

La nueva incorporación de los Mavericks pasó a la historia como uno de los mejores jugadores universitarios que jamás se hayan visto. En las cuatro temporadas que jugó para su padre Greg McDermott en la Universidad de Creighton, Doug promedió 21.7 puntos y 7.5 rebotes por encuentro con un 45.8 por ciento de acierto en triples, llevándose el AP Player Of The Year entre otros galardones, y finalizando con un total de 3150 puntos anotados, el quinto máximo anotador en la historia de la NCAA, una lista que lidera Pete Maravich con 3667.

“Nuestros hijos tuvieron la oportunidad de viajar a algunos sitios y ver algunas cosas que otros niños no podían hacer,” decía el entrenador Greg sobre sus hijos. “Al mismo tiempo su padre estaba mucho tiempo fuera, probablemente solo vi la mitad de los partidos de instituto de Doug, cuando tuvo un gran éxito, y habría sido divertido haberlo disfrutado más. Pero muchos padres mandan a sus hijos a la universidad e igual los ven tres veces al año, y yo he tenido la oportunidad de trabajar con mi hijo cada día. Eso ha sido un regalo como padre. Al mismo tiempo, a mí no me habría gustado tener que ver a mi padre todos los días en la universidad.”

“Cuando era joven él siempre estaba de viaje, ya fuese con su equipo o reclutando,” explicaba Doug McDermott en su año senior. “La gente realmente no se da cuenta de lo ajetreada que es la vida de un entrenador universitario, porque en realidad no tienen offseason. Ahora hay días en los que me cabrea un poco más que otros, y puede cansar un poco porque he estado escuchando esa voz durante años, pero cuando estamos en la cancha no es mi padre, es coach Greg.”

Tras cumplir su ciclo universitario se presentó al Draft de la NBA de 2014, donde fue seleccionado con el pick número 11 por los Denver Nuggets para ser traspasado después a los Chicago Bulls. Desde entonces los únicos seniors seleccionados más altos que él han sido Frank Kaminsky al año siguiente con el pick 9 y Buddy Hield en 2016 con el pick 6, en una NBA que cada vez opta más por el talento ultra joven en el Draft, pues el primer senior seleccionado en el pasado mes de junio no llegó hasta el puesto 29 con Derrick White y los San Antonio Spurs.

Desde que llegó a la NBA, McDermott promedia 7.9 puntos y 2.3 rebotes en los 250 encuentros que ha disputado, siendo su virtud más valorada probablemente el lanzamiento exterior, con un 40.1 por ciento en triples. Sin embargo, ese dista de ser su único punto fuerte. Como buen hijo de entrenador de baloncesto, McDermott es un jugador muy disciplinado, con una alta IQ y muy generoso en la pista cualidades que Rick Carlisle sin duda sabrá valorar.
“Me gusta lo que ha estado haciendo,” dijo Rick Carlisle después del primer partido de McDermott con la camiseta de los Mavs. “Ofensivamente es alguien a quien hay que prestar atención. Se mueve genial sin el balón y tiene uno de los lanzamientos más rápidos que he visto, hay muy pocos que sean tan veloces. Creo que va a encajar bien con la gente que tenemos aquí.”

Ser ya alguien del gusto del entrenador es un buen primer paso, pero además los Mavericks opinan que a sus 26 años McDermott aún tiene potencial por destapar, y que la forma en la que ha sido utilizado y más en concreto el puesto en el que ha jugado puede tener algo que ver en que no haya alcanzado su pleno rendimiento.

“Para mí tiene que ver con su posición,” dijo Carlisle antes del debut. “Creo que ha jugado sobre todo de tres en la NBA, y me gustaría echarle un vistazo en el tres y en el cuatro. Sé que en ataque puede funcionar en ambos puestos, veremos cómo se adaptaría en defensa. Jugó mucho de cuatro en la universidad, casi exclusivamente, y por eso vamos a probarlo. No es alguien que te vaya a superar con fuerza bruta, pero el juego tiene que ver mucho con los ángulos y si eres así de bueno en ataque, puedes mantener el tipo en defensa también.”

La presencia de McDermott en la pista proporciona a los Mavericks otra amenaza exterior, algo que ayuda a abrir la pista para el resto. Algunos de sus compañeros ya lo han notado.

“Ha sido evidente esta noche,” dijo Dennis Smith Jr. sobre el espaciado de McDermott después de su primer partido juntos. “Cuando sale de los bloqueos muchas veces el hombre grande también se va con él y le sigue porque sabe lanzar muy bien. Así encontré a Salah Mejri en un corte y creo que Dirk consiguió su mate así también. Ayuda a espaciar la pista para el resto.”

El mismo alero considera que el Sistema ofensivo de Rick Carlisle tiene potencial para sacar lo máximo de él. A pesar de su acierto exterior, Doug solo promedia 2.7 intentos de tres por partido en su carrera, un número que espera aumentar en un equipo que lanza mucho de tres como los Dallas Mavericks.

“(Mi juego) encaja realmente bien,” dijo McDermott sobre su estilo y el sistema ofensivo de los Mavericks. “Creo que el entrenador pone a sus lanzadores en posiciones muy buenas, y para eso es para lo que estoy yo en la pista. Es excitante estar aquí, juegan de la manera correcta. Estoy muy emocionado por estar aquí.”

En su llegada a Dallas McDermott se encontró con un viejo conocido: Harrison Barnes. Ambos fueron compañeros de equipo en el instituto en el Ames High School durante dos temporadas (2008-09 y 2009-10) y lideraron a su equipo a dos títulos estatales con un récord perfecto en esas dos campañas: 53-0. No perdieron ningún partido en aquellos dos años.

“Yo realmente lo admiraba por lo duro que trabajaba,” decía McDermott en su año sophomore al Star News. “Creo que en parte me encuentro donde estoy ahora mismo por el modelo que él fue para mí. Recuerdo que en nuestro año senior estaba a las 6 de la mañana levantando pesas y después hacía una sesión de lanzamiento. De vez en cuando teníamos algún día libre y él nos mandaba mensajes para que fuésemos a entrenar con él. Fue un gran líder durante el instituto, y está muy bien ver lo lejos que ha llegado.”

El próximo verano McDermott será agente libre restringido. Durante los dos próximos meses, los Dallas Mavericks evaluarán de cerca su juego, y él intentará convencerles de que merece un puesto en la plantilla a largo plazo.

Tras pasar por cuatro equipos en cuatro años, Doug McDermott busca un hogar definitivo. Tanto él como los Mavericks intentarán que lo encuentre en Dallas.

Doug McDermott has added a new dimension to the Mavs’ second unit

Postgame: Doug McDermott

Mavs F Doug McDermott dishes on Monday's win over the Pacers.

The Mavs’ bench is good.

That was true earlier this season. At the time, the lineup of J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dwight Powell were terrorizing opposing second units to the tune of a whopping 113.3 points per 100 possessions and allowing only 93.9. For reference, no NBA team allows fewer than 101.0. Only one scores more than 113.3.

Very good second units have been a point of pride around Dallas for years. Jason Terry was one of the best sixth men in the league as a Maverick, carrying the offense in the second quarter and helping close games in the fourth. Jerry Stackhouse and Antawn Jamison were major contributors even before him. More recently, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright ran the show for a couple seasons before handing the reins over to Barea and Harris. The 2017-18 version of the Mavs’ second unit was statistically one of the best — if not the best — we’ve ever seen.

When the Mavericks traded Harris at the deadline for Doug McDermott, there was reason to wonder what would happen to the bench dynasty. Losing Harris’s playmaking and defensive versatility was a big blow. It turns out, though, that they haven’t missed a beat since bringing in McBuckets.

The five-man unit of Barea, Ferrell, McDermott, Nowitzki, and Powell has outscored opponents 152-104 in 53 minutes together. That group’s offense has been scoring at an astronomical rate, pouring in 137.4 points per 100 possessions in its five games together. Five games and 53 minutes together is a pretty small sample size, yes, but given the success the bench had earlier this season, there’s reason to believe this can still be a consistently good unit.

Briefly, here’s what the four players who have been here all year long do on offense. Barea is the man at the wheel, running pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll until something opens up. He is the man who pulls the strings.

“J.J. has the ball and runs a great show for us,” Nowitzki said. “We all know he’s one of the best and smartest pick-and-roll players the league has. He makes great passes out of there.”

“Barea has had a brilliant year,” Carlisle said. “He is the engine driving a lot of this stuff and he has been fantastic.”

Ferrell and Nowitzki spread the floor, both hitting 3s at about a 40 percent clip. Nowitzki’s gravity is still stronger than the sun’s, as teams still fear his jumper to an absurd degree.

Powell is always there to eat up all the open space left over from defenders leaping out to keep Dirk from hoisting a trailing 3. Meanwhile, sometimes Nowitzki is the one to benefit from Powell’s rolling.

“That’s really rewarding for me,” Powell said. “Obviously if I’m rolling hard, it’s always run to get a dunk or get a layup. but to know if they take that away and we’re getting a 3, we still are getting rewarded from that action, so it’s still a positive play.”

Ferrell, meanwhile, injects some much-needed quickness on the perimeter. The Barea-Powell and Barea-Nowitzki pick-and-rolls bend defenses in ways many others around the league do not, and Ferrell can capitalize on that imbalance by creating plays for himself or for others. For example, in the play below, the Pacers deny the hand-off and re-screen between Powell and Barea, so Powell attacks the basket, finds Ferrell on the cut, and Ferrell finds the shooter. It’s beautiful basketball.

Powell is showing much more skill as his career has developed — he’s averaging 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.0 assists and shooting 59.2 percent from the field 85.7 percent from the free throw line in his last nine games — but his most important contribution to this particular group is his ability to run hard to the rim in search of lob passes, whether it’s following a screen or is just a hard cut. Rick Carlisle even recently rolled out an old favorite set play he used to run for Brandan Wright, now calling it for Powell.

“As a roller, you’ve got to assume it’s always gonna work,” Powell said. “I’m always ready to go, and I’m always assuming J.J. will throw it.”

That’s what those four players do in a nutshell: Nowitzki screens and shoots, Ferrell cuts and shoots, Powell screens and rolls, and Barea is the guy who makes all the decisions.

Now enter Doug McDermott, a knock-down 3-point shooter with an extremely fast release, strong cutting ability, and hops. Quality 3-point shooters have gravity of their own, and the driving force behind this lineup’s nuclear offense is the interaction of McDermott’s influence with Nowitzki’s, Powell’s, and Ferrell’s. Simply put, teams fear 3-point shooters. And when you get a bunch of smart players together playing for a smart coach, you’re going to see some clever designs to get guys open. In the play below, Julius Randle leaps out to deny a pass to McDermott in the corner, leaving no one home to guard Nowitzki.

Later that game, we see a play that better illustrates all of these gravities interacting. The Mavs set up a double drag screen for Barea on the right wing, with Nowitzki as the first screener. The idea of this play, at least as the Lakers see it, is that Barea will use both screens to move to the middle of the floor while Nowitzki pops out for 3 and Powell rolls to the rim. But that isn’t what the Mavericks do, and McBuckets capitalizes on the confusion.

The Lakers intentionally switch on every screen, so Isaiah Thomas winds up on Dirk after the first screen. Dallas obviously abandons the play and Dirk quickly posts up the much shorter Thomas. Kyle Kuzma thinks the second screen is going to come so he switches onto Barea, but the screen never happened so Randle is still guarding Barea, too. As Powell rolls, Corey Brewer tags down to keep him from getting a dunk. So too does Josh Hart, who likely assumes that Brewer is going to either double-team Nowitzki or go guard Ferrell in the corner. Every Lakers defender is in a difficult position, and Nowitzki still has a one-foot size advantage over his defender. Advantage Dallas. Dirk finds McDermott, and he attacks Josh Hart who’s closing out with everything he’s got to keep a 3-point shot from going up. He beats the confused defense so quickly that no one can stop him before he evolves into McBounce and slams it home.

(Five hundred things happened in that play so it might be a bit confusing. The great thing about gifs, though, is that they loop over and over again. And if you think you’re dizzy after watching it five times, imagine how tough it was for the Lakers to defend it.)

“When they run him off, he’s actually decent putting the ball on the floor,” Nowitzki said. “He’s more athletic than I think we all though. He’s been making big plays for us.”

McDermott’s shooting puts points on the board and forces defenders to respect his 3-point shot, but it’s his movement that greases the wheels of an incredibly powerful offense. His cutting ability turns simple plays into very complex ones to defend.

During one sequence in Utah, Dwight Powell faked like he was setting up for a pick-and-roll with Barea before darting over to McDermott’s defender like a heat-seeking missile. It resulted in an open 3.

The Mavericks ran a similar play the next time down the floor, and the Jazz defense wised up. This time, Donovan Mitchell snuck past the screen by sticking to McDermott’s hip. If Barea passes to McDermott coming off that Powell screen, he’s not going to have a chance to get off a shot; there simply won’t be room. Utah has him beat. But McDermott feels Mitchell behind him and sees an open alley in front of him, so he curls toward the rim and keeps going.

This is another instance of player interaction. Barea played Rudy Gobert with his eyes like a quarterback looks off a safety. As McDermott begins his run to the rim, Barea looks over to Dwight Powell as if he’s going to toss it to him and go get it back to set up a pick-and-roll. The same instant Gobert averts his attention away from McDermott and back to Powell, Barea finds McBuckets for the layup. Those two baskets were part of a stretch when that five-man group outscored Utah 30-10.

The Mavs ran the same play following an inbound pass on Monday against Indiana with the same result.

“McDermott is the kind of player that can play with any kind of lineup because he moves well, has great skill, and a really good basketball IQ,” Carlisle said. “He has picked up our stuff very quickly.”

Once you start feeling good as a group and get into a rhythm, you can start pulling out the tricks.

That was obviously not an easy pass, but it wasn’t an easy shot either. McDermott didn’t have a lot of time or room to get that shot off, but his release is so quick that it almost turns a contested shot into an open one. Whether he’s standing still or on the move, he’s able to get off a clean look.

“He really needs no room to get his shot up,” Nowitzki said after the Pacers game. “Even the one in the corner he made today was fantastic. He didn’t even bring it down and knocked it in. He’s been great. What makes him great in that unit is he doesn’t really need the ball. He’s constantly on the move. We run staggers for him and down picks, and he just comes flying off of there.”

McDermott has made an unusually smooth transition into his new role in Dallas. He’s now played for four teams since the start of last season, so his ability to pick up the playbook and develop chemistry with his new teammates (and former high school buddy) is a testament to his hoops smarts in addition to his talent.

“I just think we have a lot of guys that just know how to play basketball,” McDermott said. “We have good spacing out there with me and Yogi, Dirk and J.J. can all shoot it, and then Dwight Powell just rolls really well to the rim and it opens up everything for us. I can’t thank him enough for rolling every time, and then having unselfish guards that are finding me.”

His contract expires at the end of this season, but if he continues to play like this for the Mavericks, it will be difficult to envision him playing for a fifth team anytime soon.

Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott: Two kids from Ames, Iowa reunited again

It was the fall of 2006 when Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott walked into Ames High School for their freshman year.

Doug was the new kid as his family had just moved to Ames while Harrison had grown up in Ames his entire life. Both freshmen walked through the front doors of high school at the bottom of the totem pole.

For Doug, it was straight to the freshmen basketball team. Playing varsity as an underclassman was unheard of at Ames High, especially with how strict their coach was. But for Harrison, it was a different story.

“Me and my friends were playing freshman ball and he was on varsity,” McDermott said. “I remember meeting him in summer workouts in middle school. I could always tell he was going to be a really good player.”

For Doug, it took a while.

“He didn’t make varsity until his junior year,” Barnes pointed out with a grin on his face.

McDermott would spend his first two years of high school growing physically and as a basketball player before joining Barnes on the varsity team. The team knew they could be good, but the run they went on over the next two years would go down in the Ames High history books.

“Once I matured and developed a little more I was able to join him on varsity and we won 53 straight,” McDermott said.

53 straight games and back-to-back state championships.

“Those are the prime years of Ames High basketball,” Barnes said.

Barnes and McDermott headlined the team, but they also had a couple of other guys that went on to play basketball at the next level.

“Our junior year we had a guy go to Yale and Iowa State,” Barnes said. “It’s rare that you see so many people from one specific location. A small cluster of players that go on to play at some type of level outside of high school. Whether it is community college, D-1, NBA. Now, to see where we are at now.”

“Iowa basketball is pretty competitive actually. Not a lot of close games obviously with us two but we had a team around us,” McDermott added.

While Doug took his natural position at the four, Barnes played the wing, ran the point and whatever else the coach asked of him. As Doug would say, it was his job to clean up Harrison’s misses and shoot a lot of threes.

“He played the point, he ran everything. I was kind of the garbage man and cleaned up his misses. Shot a lot of threes,” McDermott said with a grin.

Harrison wasn’t your normal high school basketball player.

The hype surrounding Harrison was sky-high in Ames and it reverberated throughout the state of Iowa, but it hit the national scale when he was ranked the No. 1 player in the country during his senior season in 2009.

This brought the circus to the small town of Ames, Iowa.

“It was a really special time because he was getting a lot of hype as the ESPN No, 1 recruit in Iowa which was really cool,” McDermott said. “Everywhere we went it was really cool. We were like rock stars because of Harrison. I think we all became better players playing in front of big crowds because we were used to it at a high school level.”

“Bill Self. Coach K. Billy Donovan. All coming to our gym,” McDermott added.

Only two players in school history made it to the NBA and neither of them had the national spotlight like Barnes did.

Even though they didn’t lose a game in two years and felt like “rock stars” due to Harrison’s publicity … when you boiled it all down, they were still just high school kids enjoying their teenage years.

On Fridays, football was king in Ames.

“Go to the football game. Watch some Little Cyclones,” McDermott said on what a Friday night in high school looked like.

“We just had a good group of friends around us. In Iowa you find a way to make it fun. Campfires. Bonfires. Tailgating for football games. After the basketball games going over to friend’s basement,” McDermott added.

Harrison echoed the same memories from high school, except Harrison needed a little help getting around as he never got his license in high school.

“I never had a license or a car,” Barnes said. “I grew up with a single-parent mom and we had one vehicle. It was always with her.”

So Doug became his “road dog” as Harrison liked to call it.

“Doug‘s dad was the head coach at Iowa State. He had the Grand Prix,” Barnes said as we both shared a laugh.

“We always had to drive him around everywhere,” McDermott said with a laugh. “Those were the good ole days and carpooling. That’s where you bond as teammates and young men.”

When McDermott arrived in Dallas last month, Barnes picked him up for a season ticket holder event and they both chuckled about the irony of Harrison giving Doug a ride.

Was Harrison really a nerd in high school?

“Nah I just took advanced classes that was all,” Barnes said with a smirk.

“He was a nerd, but a cool nerd,” McDermott added. “He could have played anywhere based on his grades. He was always in honor classes and we were always stuck in the normal classes.”

Doug admitted to making fun of him for being in all of the “smart classes,” but Harrison also took heat for being in band. Harrison spent two years in the marching band playing alto saxophone.

As for who got the girls in high school, Barnes says they all wanted Doug “McBuckets” McDermott.

“I had a girlfriend. He was Fabio man, people loved McBuckets man,” Barnes said with a laugh.

After their second straight state championship, it was time to go their separate ways. Harrison held a nationally televised press conference announcing his commitment to the University of North Carolina while Doug would make his way to Omaha, Nebraska to play for Creighton University.

They would remain close during their college years, but it wasn’t until March 18, 2012 that both of their roads converged into the same path once again.

The top-seeded Tar Heels were matched up against the No. 8 seed Bluejays in the Midwest region of the NCAA tournament.

For Barnes and the Tar Heels, it was the second game of a tournament run that seemed destined for a championship rematch against an Anthony Davis-led Kentucky team.

Barnes was flanked in the starting lineup by four other future NBA players: Kendall Marshall, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Reggie Bullock.

McDermott averaged 22.9 points per game while leading Creighton to a 29-6 record. The Bluejays beat Alabama in the first round before matching up with Barnes and North Carolina.

“They had like six NBA players compared to our one,” McDermott said. They were a lot more athletic. It was fun going up against Harrison.”

North Carolina would knock off Creighton 87-73. Barnes finished with 17 points and five rebounds while McDermott finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. It was the injury news after the game that dominated the headlines, though.

In the second half, North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall was fouled hard on a drive to the basket. After the game, it was announced that he had broken his wrist and would miss the rest of the tournament.

As the starting point guard and all-time single season leader in assists in the ACC, Marshall was a piece that proved to be irreplaceable as UNC would go on to lose in the Elite Eight to Kansas.

“They tried to rough us up man. They ended Kendall’s collegiate career. It was tough. Wrecked everything,” Barnes said as he reminisced back to that moment.

Barnes would leave North Carolina after that year for the NBA. McDermott would stay at Creighton for another two years, going down as one of the best collegiate basketball players of all-time. In 2014, he would win the John R. Wooden award and the Naismith Player of the Year award.

Fast forward four years later and now the high school duo are teammates once again … this time in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks.

They might be grown men now wearing different jerseys, but they both can’t help seeing flashes of their time together at Ames High.

“Just watching him and seeing how much better he has gotten. Seeing his mannerisms. Just the way Harrison runs, it still feels kind of the same which is really cool,” McDermott said.

“When he shoots it and is playing, I’m like I know this stuff and have seen it for years,” Barnes added.

Now that they’re on the same NBA team, friends and family back home have one game circled on their calendars: March 2, when the Mavericks travel to Chicago to face the Bulls.

Chicago is roughly 350 miles away from Ames, Iowa and the head coach of the Bulls is Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg hails from Ames High himself and is one of the four players to make it to the NBA out of Ames High.

“The Chicago game is going to be nuts,” Barnes said. “Coach is on this vendetta to get Dick Gibbs to the game. He’s the very first guy from Ames High to go into the NBA. All four guys from Ames High.”

It’s safe to say Ames High will be well represented that night.

Until then, it’s catching up time for Harrison and Doug. Barnes says as soon as McDermott arrived in Dallas they instantly started reminiscing about their high school years in Ames. A team trainer refers to it as “Iowa talk” as the pair discuss names and places only an Ames native would know.

“When you are from that community, you know everybody,” McDermott said. “We had a lot of fun. Those final two years of high school were probably the funnest two years of my life.”

From the car rides and Friday night football games to their 53 straight wins and two state titles, the boys from Ames High are back together again.

This time, suiting up for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.