Here are Patrick McCaw's per game stats from the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons:
Defense - McCaw's hands are boxer quick, and he uses that speed to poke the ball free from opposing point guards before they can get past the 3-point line. He has the quickness and agility to flash into passing lanes, knocking the ball down the court for an easy transition bucket. He can even make dribble handoffs difficult to complete, slithering inbetween the exchance to poke the ball free and cause chaos.
There are times when he'll gamble on plays, and he'll need to be disciplined when he picks up the other team's point guard, but the tools are there for him to be an impact player on that end of the court. I look at the improvements Gary Harris has made in his on-ball defense under Michael Malone and am very encouraged about what McCaw could do with NBA-level training.
Physical tools - In an interview with Draft Express, McCaw said that he started high school as a 5-foot-9 point guard, and he measured 6-foot-5.25-inches at the NBA combine (he says he is 6-foot-7). With a 6-foot-10-inch wingspan, he has above-average size for a point guard, while also having the length to guard two-guards and small forwards. He is split-rail skinny, but for a young man that is finally starting to finish growing tall, he'll be able to grow stronger as his body stops stretching him out. If he's being checked by the other team's point guard, there's likely to be a huge height difference between the two players, which is a nice advantage to have. Fast players may get fatigued and slow down, but tall never gets tired of being tall.
Efficiency - The majority of McCaw's field goal attempts came at the rim and behind the 3-point line. According to Hoop-Math, 31.9 percent of his shots came at the rim (where he made 66 percent of those attempts) and 51.5 percent of his shots were 3-point attempts (where he made 36 percent of those attempts). Those percentages are similar to the rates that Buddy Hield had for Oklahoma, but McCaw was asked to be the primary ballhandler, while Hield had two other guards helping initiate offense (Woodard and Cousins).
I have a 3-point model I use to project shooting percentages for NBA draft prospects, based off work done by Andrew Johnson of Nylon Calculus. The model projects McCaw to be the 8th-best 3-point shooter in the draft, continuing to shoot around 36 percent and making 2.17 3-pointers per game. His NBA role would likely have him shooting more catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, and he'll be able to continue to add strength to his legs and core to improve his consistency during games.
Frame - As mentioned above, McCaw is skinny, like Corey Brewer, Will Barton skinny. He doesn't have the strength to finish through contact consistently in the paint, and he'll likely struggle to rebound against stronger defenders in the NBA. He has long legs, but takes choppy strides on defense. He is fluid in transition, but not as often in defense. His height also hurts him when he's dribbling the ball, where his dribble can be a little loose and he could be prone to getting the ball stripped himself.
He also needs to add strength in his legs and core to improve his consistency through games. He can add a bit more explosiveness to help him finish in the paint, and put more elevation in his jump shot. He is already a fluid athlete, he just needs to be able to have that athleticism available to him for 25-30 minutes a night through a full NBA season. As Stiffs EOC Adam Mares likes to talk about, conditioning!
Turnovers - McCaw was the point guard for the Runnin' Rebels, and his unselfish play turned into gifts for the other team too often. He averaged 3.5 turnovers per 100 possessions for his career at UNLV, and his passes weren't as accurate as he or his coaches would like. His AST/TO rate of 3.9/2.1 is more indicative of a two-guard, which is likely the position he will end up playing in the NBA.
Midrange game - The combination of a slight frame and a loose dribble is that McCaw wasn't comfortable shooting in the midrange. While layups and 3-pointers are nice, adding the threat of being able to stop at 15-feet and pull up for a jumper would help improve his percentages at the rim and behind the 3-point line. His floater is more of a knuckleball at times, and he'll need to get practice time in running off screens for shot attempts.
Fit with the Nuggets
The Nuggets haven't been shy about what they need to add to help their team improve - shooting and defense. McCaw is among the best 3&D prospects in the draft, with his ability to guard 1-3 and knock down 3-point attempts. If the Nuggets land one of Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray with their first pick, adding McCaw to the backcourt helps complement their game.
The Nuggets have a decision to make about D.J. Augustin in free agency, and adding a prospect like McCaw would likely mean Augustin would not return. With Jameer Nelson, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris, and Will Barton all under contract, Augustin would likely not be offered a contract if the Nuggets drafted McCaw.
Projected Draft Spot
CBS Sports (Vecenie) - 45
Bleacher Report (Wasserman) - 38
NBADraft.net - 37
Draft Express - 41
Nuggets fans saw the impact Gary Harris had on defense this season, using his quickness to poke the ball in on-ball defensive situations. McCaw has the physical tools to have similar production, but is much taller - something Harris will never be able to improve in the gym. McCaw may be able to improve his ballhandling to be a backup point guard in the NBA, but he is likely better served playing off-ball or dribbling the ball up to pass to a playmaker like Will Barton, Nikola Jokic, Danilo Gallinari, Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray (one can hope). He certainly should help improve the Nuggets perimeter defense.
McCaw is a great prospect, and a player that the Nuggets should be taking a long, hard look at if they are looking at moving up in the second round for. He is a bit of a reach at 19, but the Nuggets should be more worried about finding "their guys" if they can't work out a trade.
Join your fellow Stiffs as we find out what the Nuggets will do with their THREE first round selections during the 2016 NBA Draft. We will gather at our home bar Jake's Sports & Spirits (3800 Walnut Street) around 5:30pm and Jake's will extend happy hour drink prices for us all draft long. And we'll play Denver Nuggets draft trivia for prizes, including individual game tickets during the 2016-17 season. We hope to see you there!