As the San Antonio Spurs surged to a surprise appearance in the play-in games, one face was missing. While it was by no means his fault, sharpshooting forward Doug McDermott suffered an ankle injury in March that ruled him out for the remainder of the season, and it might mean the end of his time in the Silver and Black.
We've already speculated that McDermott might be a one-year player in San Antonio even before he got hurt. He's on a team-friendly contract, has two seasons left on his current deal, and is a reliable veteran scorer who really does it all on the offensive end. His defense is lackluster, but he is still a great trade piece who could bring even more young talent to the Spurs.
When McDermott went down, I initially thought they would miss his reliable shooting or veteran leadership, if not both. That didn’t really seem to be the case. He missed the last 11 games of the regular season and the Spurs have gone 8-3 during that span.
Plenty of guys have stepped up without McDermott
The Spurs have found multiple replacements for Dougie McBuckets. Keldon Johnson took over at power forward and has been on a mission of destruction. He has shot 40% from deep over the last 11 games and averaged a team-high 21 points during that span. Everything McDermott does, Johnson simply does better.
McDermott seemed to be a placeholder until Devin Vassell came into his own, but over the last month, he has filled his shoes. Vassell has averaged 14.4 points on 41% shooting from deep in the absence of McDermott. Since the trade deadline, Vassell has been a full-time starter, but it’s worth noting that in games he played alongside McDermott, he only shot 35% from deep and his perimeter defense was not as good. He is up to a steal and a half since McDermott stopped playing, and his shooting efficiency is way up.
Perhaps the most obvious replacement for McDermott is Josh Richardson. McDermott was a starter and Richardson is not, but both are locker room guys who play with the hustle and usually make those around them better. Josh Richardson is just better at basketball in every conceivable way. He is not a defensive liability at all, his shooting is actually better, and he is perhaps the fastest fan-favorite in Spurs history, which is especially crazy considering his arrival was the result of the Derrick White trade.
There is certainly a market this offseason for Doug McDermott. He is owed roughly $13 million per year until 2024, but his production has improved over the last two seasons. Even coming off an injury, it should be clear that he’s worth plenty for a team that needs to fill out a bench unit with some firepower.
His stint in San Antonio will probably be short, but McDermott helped usher in the new Spurs era.