When the 2014 NBA Draft tips off this evening, a stupendous streak has a chance to continue on. Since the year 2001, at least one player from the Big East Conference has been selected within the Top 10 of the NBA Draft. That run is further compounded when you look at lottery picks, as the conference has seen at least one player taken amongst the first 14 players since 1999.
Since then, the NBA Draft has been held in five different venues: the MCI Center (now known as the Verizon Center) in Washington, D.C., the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the historic Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey and now the state-of-the-art Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
This run began on June 30, 1999 when the Washington Wizards selected the remarkable Richard Hamilton with the seventh overall pick. Hamilton, of course, had just helped his Connecticut Huskies win their first NCAA Championship in men's basketball. Interestingly enough, it was the Washington Wizards who stretched this run to 15 straight NBA Drafts with a lottery pick when they selected Georgetown's Otto Porter Jr. with the third overall pick last year.
From Connecticut's triad of big men in Emeka Okafor, Hasheem Thabeet and Andre Drummond; Georgetown's Jeff Green, Greg Monroe and Michael Sweetney; Syracuse's Wes Johnson, Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony; and even Seton Hall's Eddie Griffin the Big East Conference has enjoyed a bevy of success since the close and subsequent turn of the 20th and 21st century respectively.
As the 2014 NBA Draft nears, so too does an opportunity for this impressive run to continue. And it's all in the hands of a man who is no stranger to the spotlight: the living legend himself, Doug McDermott.
When Creighton first opened its arms to welcome Doug McDermott, they had to plan on the caravan being larger than expected. Not only was Omaha welcoming one Ames, Iowa native, they were welcoming two as his father Greg McDermott was tagging along. After an impressive run at Northern Iowa, going 90-63 with three NCAA Tournament appearances in a row in his eventual final three seasons, Greg became the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. Unfortunately, things never worked out as Greg went just 59-68 and an abysmal 18-46 in Big 12 play.
With their hometown behind them, father and son fled to Omaha and to a Creighton program that was doing alright for itself in the Missouri Valley Conference. What came after that was something that no one could have expected in their wildest of dreams.
In the "Doug McDermott Era" Creighton won 107 games and made the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years: his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. While the Bluejays never made it out of the first weekend, they never went out in their first matchup. For the four years that Doug was in college, the Bluejays won 20 or more games each season. This included win totals of 29, 28 and 27, which has the look of a very good program no matter how you view it.
In the first year that McDermott was on campus, he played a career-low 29.1 minutes per game. But he still found a way to make an impact, converting on 52.5 percent of his field goal opportunities. He only averaged 10.7 attempts per game, which looking back seems like a far cry from what he would blossom into. This is further documented by McDermott's possession rate that year, which was just 26.2 according to Ken Pomeroy.
Things changed the following year though, and they changed in a hurry. McDermott went up from taking 28.4 percent of shots taken by the team to 33.3. His field goal attempts went from 10.7 a night to 14.6. And while his shot taking rocketed, so did his efficiency. His sophomore season saw this shooter's field goal percentage shoot up to 60.1 percent.
Put this in perspective for a second: Doug was taking more shots. He was taking more two-point opportunities. He was given even more responsibilities. How did he respond? With flying colors, coming away with 22.9 points per game. A full eight points better than his averages as a freshman.
Pressure may not be in this young man's vocabulary.
While Doug delighted in arguably the best season of his college career from an efficiency standpoint, the Bluejays had their highest win total while he was in Omaha (29). The 6-foot-6 forward decisively devastated opponent after opponent with his tremendous shooting touch, extending his range from just about anywhere and everywhere on the floor.
It was his junior and senior seasons that McDermott really improved on his shot-making abilities. As Jacob Padilla wrote in his scouting report on Bright Side of the Sun, "He even developed a mid-range game as a junior and senior, including a Dirk Nowitzki-esque one-legged fadeaway." His numbers show that as the Creighton forward shot 57.3 and 56.7 percent from inside the 3-point line in his junior and senior seasons respectively.
When the Bluejays moved to the Big East Conference last summer, McDermott relished at the opportunity to be on a bigger stage. He skipped out on the opportunity to declare for the NBA Draft, where his chance at being a lottery pick may have still been high with how watered down the class was. But he chose to roll the dice and with all eyes watching, he saved his best performance for last. After a year in which he became the fifth-leading scorer in NCAA history, Doug McDermott earned Big East and National Player of the Year honors in 2014, scoring a career high 26.7 points per game on an absurd field goal percentage of 52.6 percent.
If McDermott is your team's newest draft pick, let it be known that he is an elite scoring talent. He can shoot the ball from just about anywhere on the floor, and is definitely NBA-ready from that standpoint. Not only that, but with his experience in the post, he was able to develop an arsenal of post moves and abilities to shoot the ball at any and all angels. He's got a tremendous knack for knowing the situation at hand and is a very crisp passer, to boot.
If there is one slight on McDermott's résumé, it might encompass his defensive abilities. Gone are the days of defending college players, as this 6-foot-8 wing will now have to step into the league where the big boys play. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jared Dudley, Nic Batum, Kevin Durant, Luol Deng, and LeBron James are just some of the many names that Doug will have to defend against. Unfortunately for him, his defensive game needs some refinement and his size is a big reason for that. With a wing span of just 6-foot-9 and a standing reach of just 8-foot-7, he's limited in those areas and might struggle on that end in a while.
But with all that said, there is no denying his offensive abilities. That's a big reason why teams think so highly of him and why he might make it 15 years in a row for the Big East Conference to net themselves a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.
Your team will certainly be getting a player with tremendous character, and as we have learned here on Big East Coast Bias, a sense of humor too. It's likely that McDermott is a starting wing for whichever team selects him, and while an inhumane expectation of Doug achieving as much in the pros as he did in college is, at best, wishful thinking it should not come to a surprise to anybody if Doug McDermott flourishes if he plays himself into the right situation. He'll be your team's next great shooter from just about everywhere on the floor, and could turn himself into quite the offensive weapon if all goes well.