Mitch McGary Should Return One More Season to Reach the High LotteryPosted by Deepak Jayanti on April 11th, 2013
Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of RTC. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.
Before the confetti was even cleaned up in the Georgia Dome on Monday night, speculation had begun about the future of several Michigan players headed to the NBA Draft. At this juncture of his career, Trey Burke will likely enter the NBA Draft. His counterpart, Tim Hardaway Jr., may not be a lottery pick but his stock isn’t likely to go much higher. Under the assumption that both guards will not be back in Ann Arbor next season, the question regarding Mitch McGary’s future will be a hot topic over the next few days. McGary’s sizzling performance during the past three weeks has him climbing up the charts on most of the draft boards but he could benefit from another season under his belt in the Big Ten. The following are three reasons why he needs to come back to Ann Arbor for one more season.
- Look no further than the National Title game to understand where McGary needs improvement. The Louisville front court – Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan – muscled their way in the paint against McGary which shows that there are a couple of areas of his game that can be improved. Dieng made numerous excellent passes (six assists) in the half-court and showed an effective jumper from 17-feet in the high post. McGary has shown glimpses of a decent looking jumper himself, which can only get better with a full offseason of shooting and additional training. He is quicker than Dieng off the bounce and by adding a better jumper to his arsenal, he could dominate a game in even more ways. Behanan was just tougher that McGary in the paint and destroyed him on the glass in the second half by grabbing a total of 12 rebounds. Once again, McGary is just as strong as Behanan but he could use another season to learn spacing on the floor which will help him average double-figure rebounds per game next season. If he comes back for another season, he could be the best big man on the court during almost every game which will separate him from the rest of the crop for the 2014 NBA Draft.
- With Cody Zeller potentially heading to the NBA, McGary will be the best big man in the Big Ten. Zeller announced on Wednesday that he is gone after two successful seasons in Bloomington. Other dominant league forwards such as Trevor Mbakwe and Derrick Nix are graduating, so the door is wide open for McGary to claim the “best big man in the Big Ten” crown next year. There is no other player who can compete with the size and skill of McGary in the paint. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne comes close but even he will have trouble handling McGary underneath the basket — his continued dominance will naturally elevate McGary into the conversation about the best interior player in the country. Even though he made the all-Tournament team and scouts have noticed his incredibly efficient performances, some could attribute his play to the juggernaut which was the Michigan offense. With a full season of acting as the primary scoring option and building a resume of a bunch of 20/10 games in the Big Ten, his stock would only improve next season.
- Even without Burke and Hardaway, McGary will have a chance to lead the Wolverines to another Final Four next season. During points of the first half of the National Championship game, five freshmen were on the floor for Michigan, and Spike Albrecht had the confidence to shoot from anywhere on the court. John Beilein’s offense can be just as good next season even without Burke because any of the “fresh five” can score with ease. The Michigan athletic department will sell next year’s team as the super sophomores with McGary featured as the “man in the middle.’ With only some slight changes to his game, the Wolverines can get back to another Final Four. Keep in mind that he struggled with the flow of the offense for most of the season because he was still getting used to the tempo of the college game, but after he got himself into shape, he began to dominate games using his pure skill and athleticism. Now add all that talent to another offseason of actually being involved in Beilein’s set playsand he can showcase himself as more than just a “raw talent” to NBA scouts next season.