Rebuilds are rarely a short-term endeavor in the NBA. They can often last multiple years and cause fans to disengage as their favorite team fumbles lottery picks and fails to cement a championship culture. Exiting the cellar and climbing to contention is an arduous process that is nearly impossible without a franchise cornerstone.
The San Antonio Spurs are still searching for a generational talent to carry them back to the promised land. Victor Wembanyama would give them an answer to some of their problems, but he isn't a catch-all solution. Finding the ancillary pieces to prevent the foundation from crumbling around your superstar is paramount, and it is a step PATFO cannot ignore.
Despite what their regular-season record might suggest, several veterans have played a critical role in fostering the development of the burgeoning prospects across this roster. Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson were vital to the Spurs in that regard. San Antonio moved them at the trade deadline for draft capital, so why did they hang onto Doug McDermott?
McDermott has averaged 10.1 points per game on .466/.424/.741 shooting splits. Those numbers alone sell his impact short. He might not be an elite self-creator or lockdown defender, but he has been an unsung hero for the Silver and Black.
The 31-year-old forward is an exceptional space-chaser that finds gaps in the defense by staying in perpetual motion. He is an expert off-ball scorer that relocates, cuts, and utilizes screens to near perfection, and his quick-trigger release and unmatched shot preparation negate most closeouts.
There is an exclusive group of players with the coordination to nail three-pointers in transition, on the move, and sprinting around pindowns, flares, and handoffs. While McDermott certainly fits those parameters, his bread and butter is spot-up shooting, where he ranks in the 96th percentile.
Because McDermott hits 42.4% of his catch-and-shoot threes, defenders must remain attached at the hip or pay the price of affording him daylight. His massive gravity from beyond the arc gives inexperienced ballhandlers room to navigate the court while offering them a reliable outlet when they get into sticky situations.
The six-seven sharpshooter is capable of manufacturing wide-open looks without touching the basketball. A whopping 92.4% of his field goals have come via assists, and he has used two or fewer dribbles to score on 93.1% of all his made shots this season. Though ankle-breakers are exhilarating, he understands the limitations of his handles and rarely forces the issue.
Nobody on the team is more effective without the ball in their hands than McDermott, and it is no shock that he leads San Antonio in overall scoring efficiency (1.082 PPP).
Dougie McBuckets is an ideal sparkplug that can enhance any lineup with his unique marksmanship. Regardless of who the Spurs select in the 2023 NBA Draft or where they go from here, he should play a substantial part in helping Gregg Popovich and his legion of youngsters transition to the next stage of the rebuild.