Sean McDermott and Shaq Buchanan are two training camp deals with bigger reputations around their fanbase than most of these kinds of players on other teams.
McDermott was one of the Memphis Grizzlies two two-way players last season, splitting time between the main roster in spurts and with the Memphis Hustle down with the G-League Bubble, or Gubble. Fans are familiar with his game from the times he played for an injury-riddled roster, as well as his prominent role in the Summer League a few months back. However, he was cut from his two-way deal, which was given to rookie Yves Pons.
Buchanan was Ja Morant’s backcourt bounce bro at Murray State, and he’s also been on the Memphis Hustle the past two seasons. He seemed to be the leading candidate to fill McDermott’s spot, even generating praise from ESPN analyst, former player Kendrick Perkins. However, it’s looking like he’s heading back to the Hustle where he could take on a leadership role.
This young bull @ShaqLeroy really put the world on noticed during Summer League in Vegas!!! I’m hearing he’s drawing a lot of interest from multiple teams around the league!!! Carry on... pic.twitter.com/zt559zHc44— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) August 17, 2021
As these two players embark through this preseason to prep for the next stage of their NBA careers, I asked some questions to GBB’s Hustle correspondent Brandon Abraham to get some insight on the McDermott and Buchanan.
1) The Grizzlies waived Sean McDermott from a two-way deal and ended up bringing him back on an Exhibit-10 deal. What do you think is the possible rationale behind that move on either side?
This move surprised me a little bit, but I think it shows the Grizzlies like McDermott, but felt that a full G League season would benefit him (and the team) — while Pons defensive abilities could come more in handy if needed in a pinch for the Grizzlies.
2) What are some skills that could bode well for Shaq and Sean for NBA trajectories?
For McDermott it’s clearly his shooting. He was a great shooter in college who struggled pretty heavily at the NBA level as he shot 5-22 (22.7%). It’s a small sample size and surely more consistent minutes would help. But McDermott’s shot will be what leads him to success at the NBA level. So far it hasn’t translated from college, as he shot just 31.8% from deep in the G League bubble with the Hustle.
For Shaq, it’s going to be his pure athleticism. Sure, the high-flying dunks are a ton of fun but I’m talking more about in regards to him being athletic to defend multiple positions and create his own shot on the offensive end. His athleticism allows him to do a lot of different things on the court.
3) As these two players are fighting for shots on a main roster, what could be holding Shaq and Sean from a main roster deal?
Sean’s poor shooting likely contributed to his cut and E10 contract. If he ups his shooting percentages, he likely gets a deal somewhere.
Shaq is good at nearly everything but isn’t particularly great at one specific thing. He can be a solid scorer, rebounder and defender but doesn’t necessarily jump out with one specific thing (whereas Pons showed elite defender potential). Shaq also had a not great bubble in Orlando last season which likely caused some doubts about his consistency.
4) Exhibit 10 deals usually mean a pay raise for G-League players. With Buchanan and McDermott likely headed to Southaven, what are their projected roles for the Hustle this season?
Both Shaq and Sean should be key starters on the wing for the Hustle this season. We obviously don’t know what the Hustle roster will look like in its entirety, but based on their familiarity with Jason March and his system, both should be key contributors from the jump.
5) Do Shaq and Sean make it throughout training camp? If not, do we see them giving any other players E10 deals before Hustle season starts?
I would be shocked if both Shaq and Sean make it all the way through the preseason. The Grizzlies have used the tail end of the preseason to sign and cut E10 deals and I don’t see this year being different. They have yet to make the Romeo Weems E10 deal official (reported by Shams on draft night), and I would also expect Olivier Sarr to get an E10 deal as well after a solid Summer League. Then you have the Hustle holdovers in Anthony Cowan Jr. and Ahmad Caver who would be likely candidates for E10 deals should they decide for another go with the Hustle. Barring any surprise players, the Grizzlies could also bring in Ben Moore and Keaton Wallace who played summer league with them and give them a chance with the Hustle.
Even if McDermott or Buchanan don’t make the final roster, there’s a good chance you could see them in Southaven this season. And for the first time in nearly 2 years, you can catch the Memphis Hustle in person at the Landers Center. Don’t miss out on some fun G-League hoops.