WALTHAM, Mass. — Doug McDermott visited the Boston Celtics’ practice facility for a pre-draft workout Thursday morning. Take one guess at what he did.
“He lived up to his nickname,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said of the 6-foot-8 Creighton product. “Buckets. He made a lot of them. He’s a great shooter.”
That fact is undeniable. McDermott — or “Dougie McBuckets,” as he’s come to be known — averaged more than 20 per game in three of his four collegiate seasons, including a 26.7 point-per-game average as a senior that led all of Division I and earned him more than a dozen national player of the year awards.
But McDermott, who is projected as a mid-to-late first-round pick, is aware that the NBA is much more than a pop-a-shot contest. Countless players who have lit up the scoreboard in college have been career bench players or worse when they reach the professional ranks. One of the primary concerns regarding McDermott is that he could earn the dreaded “tweener” title — not big or physical enough to handle the grind at power forward (his primary position with the Bluejays) and not athletic enough to guard smaller, quicker opponents on the outside.
“He’s played a lot of 4 in college, (but) he’s going to have to play a lot of 3 in the NBA,” Ainge said. “I think anytime that transition is going on, you worry about defending the perimeter. I thought he did a good job today. He had a couple of impressive dunks. I think he’s more athletic than people give him credit for.”
McDermott agreed — almost word for word — with Ainge’s final note, and he’s hoping to prove to NBA evaluators in the final days before the draft that he’s more than just a one-dimensional player.
“I feel like I can move a lot better than people give me credit for,” he said. “I think I’m a little more athletic, as well. I think people know I can shoot, but I feel like I can shoot off one or two dribbles. I feel like I’ve really improved in that area.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has run up-tempo workouts throughout the pre-draft process, and Thursday was no different. McDermott described a very “live” session, with he and the five other prospects in attendance — a group that included fellow projected first-rounders Aaron Gordon and Jerami Grant — competing in 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 drills against each other.
“I think that’s a great way to do it,” McDermott said. “It’s the most realistic setting you can get is to go against other guys.”
This was McDermott’s second visit with an NBA team, and he has two more planned before draft night. It’s a safe bet, though, that this will be one of the more memorable workouts for the 22-year-old, who marveled at the 17 championship banners surrounding the practice court.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I want to get my phone out and take some pictures. This is a franchise everyone grows up watching. My grandparents, my dad — this was always their team. So it’s cool to be part of history, pretty much. I’m really blessed to be here.”
Photo via Twitter/@dougymcbuckets3