Days before Mitch McGary signed his rookie deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder as the team's first round pick (No. 21 overall), he'd already won many fans over at the introductory press conference. At 6-10 and in outstanding shape, he'd set out to prove his troubles - a bad back and a positive drug test - were behind him.
"It means everything," McGary said of being chosen higher than many expected. "For a team to take a chance on me after all the adversities I went through and the way I ended my collegiate career, it really shows a lot about them and shows that they saw past the adversities and know that I can overcome them."
Michigan fans didn't have any doubts. Though he missed all but eight games this year due to a back injury that ultimately required surgery, he showed enough in his short career to leave everyone wanting more. He played with only one speed - fast - and is already showing he might be a bargain. It took two seconds into Saturday's first summer league game, The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry reported
"On his first possession in the Thunder's 84-63 loss to Memphis on the opening day of the Orlando Pro Summer League, the 21st overall pick out of Michigan inbounded the ball from the sideline, just past halfcourt, by tossing a pinpoint lob pass to Jeremy Lamb, who finished the play with a two-handed dunk," Mayberry reported.
"…The rest of his night was filled with a beautiful blend of basketball basics that McGary makes look easy, a mixture of skills that someday could make the big man a steal."
Two minutes later, McGary pulled down an offensive rebound between two defenders and dove on the floor to save it as the ball squirted toward the baseline out of bounds line. He scored eight points on 3-for-8 shooting in and grabbed three rebounds in 22 minutes in an 84-63 loss, adding one assist and one steal.
"We try to get the players where we have them on the board, and we felt like the opportunity to add him to the team is valuable," Thunder G.M. Sam Presti said after he picked McGary. "I can't project what happens behind us, but when you have a player that you think fits not only your playing identity but also kind of fits into your roster-building construction as you look forward, I think he was not only a playing addition but also a strategic roster-building addition as well."
The 6-10 McGary averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore last season. See highlights from his first game below.
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