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Doug McDermott can be a longterm building block for the Mavericks

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After spending the last third of the season in Dallas, McDermott is a restricted free agent the Mavericks need to bring back.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The dust has settled on draft night and free agency really isn’t so far off. The Mavericks have plenty of work to do. Lucky for them, a player that should be one of their targets has been under their nose since February.

The Basics

Doug McDermott, the 26 year old 6’8, 225 pound sharpshooting wing, has done a fair share of bouncing around in his four seasons in the NBA. Originally drafted by the Chicago Bulls, then traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, then traded to the New York Knicks, the Mavericks acquired McDermott last season as part of a three team trade with the Knicks and Denver Nuggets.

With career averages of eight points, two rebounds, and just under an assist per game, Dougie McBuckets hasn’t always lived up to the nickname he brought with him to the league. But in his 26 games with the Mavs, something seemed to unlock in McDermott. His numbers weren’t actually all that different — he averaged nine points, 2.5 rebounds and an assist per game — outside a major spike in his three point shooting. Dougie was lethal, shooting an insane 49 percent on 79 attempts from deep while in Dallas. McDermott fit seamlessly in to the bench unit that found so much success last season (taking over for Devin Harris, who was shipped to Denver in the same trade). Here is our season review for Dougie back in April.

Doug McDermott hits the summer market as a restricted free agent, after finishing up his rookie contract. He has a current cap hold of $9.8 million, and his qualifying offer is just over $4 million for next season. The Mavericks have decisions to make about their future together.

Strengths

Outside of just being a flat out flamethrower from three, one of McDermott’s greatest strengths is his activity level. His basketball IQ is elite, and he knows how he works within a team’s system. It was highlighted time and again during his 26 games in Dallas, having the good fortune of playing under a coach in Rick Carlisle that actually understood how to best use him. From the outside, McDermott is not only a threat to shoot quickly, but is also smart enough to keep the offense moving; whether taking his man off the dribble or passing to the open man.

But the key to unlocking his greatest potential is keeping him in motion. Running him off a number of pin down and stagger screens, McDermott excels running through traffic and being an immediate threat. Since being acquired by the Mavericks in February, McBuckets shot 49 percent from three in catch and shoot situations, good for eighth in the league among qualified players.

In the clips here, Carlisle runs McDermott off pin down and floppy screens before the defense, and his man, can even be fully set. Granted, the Grizzlies defense here is...bad. But it’s clear McDermott knows how to leverage his man, and then be a shooting threat as soon as he gets the ball.

And McBuckets possesses more athleticism off the dribble than he gets credit for. He isn’t going take anyone in isolation. But he’s savvy enough to attack bad closeouts and get to the rim or find the open man.

McDermott also has the versatility to play both forward positions. With a decent frame, and a good sense of team defense, he pairs well with another multifaceted forward that can focus on switching on the wing and post. McDermott may never be one to stuff the stat sheet, but he continues to prove capable of doing the little things to help a team win.

Weaknesses

Doug McDermott is a fundamentally sound player, so his weaknesses much of the time are the intangibles. He simply is what he is at this point in the league — a solid role player with an average ceiling. Most troubling, playing at both forward positions, is his lack of rebounding. McDermott has never averaged three or more rebounds for a full season. His 6.1 rebounding percentage places him tied for 14th on the Mavericks roster (excluding Jameel Warney and Jeff Whithey, who both barely played); tied with Yogi Ferrell and Gian Clavell. That paints a clear picture of his rebounding prowess.

Apart from that, he isn’t great in isolation as a defender. Without much lateral quickness, he can find himself getting beat on the perimeter if he doesn’t take a proper angle. He’s shown some ability to recover in those situations, but expecting him to do more than be a team defender is ill-advised.

Fit with the Mavericks

Anyone who watched the Mavericks from February 10th on know what McDermott’s on-court fit will be. McBuckets could slot in permanently as the back up small forward, playing behind Harrison Barnes. He could also provide relief playing next to Barnes, both switching interchangeably at the forward positions. The bench unit of JJ Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Doug McDermott, Dwight Powell, and Dirk Nowitzki was deadly in the home stretch, and most of that won’t be going away. And depending on the re-signing of Yogi Ferrell, and the addition of draft picks, that unit could return fully intact.

In the league today, you can never have too many versatile wings between 6’5 and 6’9. Though McDermott has always been a role player that’s a had tough time being effective pre-Dallas, he proved that in the right system he can be valuable.

The question in terms of fit will be the price to retain him. Because he is a restricted free agent that Mavericks can sit back and wait to see what the market demands for him. They can match any offer sheet he signs. And in a summer where few teams have cap space to make sizable moves, the Mavericks should have the upper hand here. But...we all know where that’s got them in the past.

There are certain cap gymnastics they may have to do to make it happen, starting with his cap hold that sits on their books at nearly $10 million. To make all the moves work, it matters what order the Mavs sign players in — so keep an eye on how they handle McDermott. Unless there is an offer too expensive for Mark Cuban’s wallet, or the Mavs make some big splash moves in free agency that leaves no room for him, re-signing Doug McDermott should be a no brainer.