The NBA is a copycat league, and a function of that is to find the next [insert player name here]. Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Pascal Siakam and Bam Adebayo have been popular players that teams have been looking for the next version of. This year, it’s fair to say that teams will start looking for the next Duncan Robinson.
Miami’s sweet-shooting wing was undrafted out of the 2018 draft, then signed a two-way deal with the Heat prior to the 2018-19 season. After seeing his deal converted, Robinson exploded onto the national scene with his historic 3-point efficiency at the rate at which he fired. Now, he’s entering a contract year where he’ll surely become a hot commodity in the 2021 offseason.
Teams will now be looking for the next Duncan Robinson, and it’s safe to say that the Memphis Grizzlies are one of the first teams to take a swing at it with Sean McDermott. And it may not be absolutely crazy.
Avinash Chauhan from What You Expect? profiled McDermott with his DBo score to find similar players to Duncan Robinson. McDermott was the most similar player to Robinson this draft class, and the 7th-most similar this decade. He highlighted his shooting arsenal, offensive efficiency, and similar defensive instincts and turnover rates.
While calling him the next Duncan Robinson may come across as a reach — most of the similar DBo score players aren’t even NBA players — it’s still worth noting that he can still become an impactful player down the road, as our Hustle correspondent Brandon Abraham highlights in his two-way player introductory piece:
Calling McDermott the next Duncan Robinson is probably a little overzealous, but it’s not unrealistic. McDermott has a knack for moving off the ball and setting himself up for some three-point attempts. Like Robinson, McDermott isn’t the best defender but he uses his basketball IQ to stay in good position and has enough size to make things difficult for opposing offensive players despite his lack of strength.
Sean McDermott can become an impactful shooter, or flame out by the end of his two-way deal. Regardless, this is a nice “low-risk, nice-reward” move for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last season at Butler, McDermott averaged 11.7 points per game on shooting splits of 47.4/39.4/86.8, while boasting a nice 3-point rate (65.7% of his shot attempts were 3’s). He also tallied in 6.3 rebounds as well, good for 2nd-best on that Butler team.
Though he never had any accolades, his comeback from a scary staph infection is inspiring and above any award you could win. His recovery was remarkable and demonstrates true fight and strength.
The Grizzlies signed McDermott to a two-way deal on draft night, and per Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith, it’ll be a 2-year deal. This shows that the Grizzlies are investing in McDermott and allowing him to grow in Southaven, with a potential road towards becoming a NBA player in Memphis or elsewhere. I’d say it’s unlikely he plays any sort of minutes with the Memphis Grizzlies in the regular season, unless he’s flame-throwing in the G-League, or crap hits the fan.
If he somehow had to play minutes for the Grizzlies, I’d expect him to play more of a spot-up shooting role. He’d be more of a roamer and re-locater hunting for an opening off drive-and-kick’s.
However, he, Killian Tillie, and the newly-acquired Zhaire Smith are likely going to handle go-to scoring responsibilities with the Hustle. There, Jason March could explore how to use him off screens, hand-offs, and spot-up opportunities — getting him as many NBA-3 reps as possible.
Season Best Case Scenario
The best-case scenario is McDermott becoming one of the best 3-point shooters in the G-League and garnering consideration for the Grizzlies main roster next season. Though it’s hard to imagine him being on the main roster, given 14 players are under contract next season, a potential emergence could at least make things interesting.
Another best-case scenario is the G-League having somewhat of a normal season where McDermott can get as much run as possible, and the Grizzlies organization can get plenty of looks at him as well. In this situation, McDermott distinguishes himself alongside Tillie and Smith as one of the best players on the Hustle squad.
Season Worst Case Scenario
Sure, the worst-case scenario is that McDermott’s shot doesn’t fall while looking completely overmatched in an NBA setting (see: Guduric, Marko). It also wouldn’t be great if McDermott is just another player on the Hustle.
However, it’d be worse if the G-League doesn’t have a remotely normal season and takes away game reps from McDermott. That outcome would mean that McDermott could go close to 18 months with consistent game reps, which could hinder his development going forward.
I don’t know what to expect for Sean McDermott this season, especially since we don’t know the G-League’s plans going forward. There’s been no indication of a normal season, but there’s been discussions about an Atlanta bubble — per SB Nation’s Ridiculous Upside G-League blog, they have sources that said the Memphis Hustle will participate.
McDermott does need a season in the G-League, and it could serve him extremely well. There, Jason March could use him in a role that Taylor Jenkins and his staff envision for him, if promoted to the NBA roster at some point. Is that as a Duncan Robinson lite? The wing version of Jon Leuer? Or a player that belongs overseas? I’m not entirely sure.
Regardless, this two-year two-way deal for McDermott is a nice investment for the Grizzlies. You can never have too much shooting, and if he’s anything as similar as Duncan Robinson as this metric indicates, the Grizzlies have themselves a diamond in the rough.