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2014-15 Thunder player grades: Mitch McGary hustles his way into our hearts

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Mitch McGary was a surprise draft pick by the Thunder, but his energy and enthusiasm proved he belongs in OKC

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Mitchell Neil William McGary

Nickname: "Mitch," "McBro," "McDouble" or anything else with a "Mc" in front of it

Contract Status: Signed through 2015-16 with a team option in 2016-17 and 2017-18

Notable Factoid(s): McGary delivered newspapers on a unicycle has a child. McGary has ADHD.

Player History

Early Years

Mitch was born in Chesterton, Indiana on June 6, 1992. His father, Tim, coached Mitch in all of his sports until fourth grade. Early on, Tim thought Mitch's athletic future was in baseball.

As a 6'6 190lb high school freshman, McGary was a star tight end on his football team. As he continued to grow, Tim McGary made Mitch quit football and focus on basketball. This ended up behind a blessing in disguise for Mitch, as he made varsity for the first time as a sophomore.

While being recruited, McGary participated in several high school showcases and camps. He played in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 event, where he gathered some extra attention when he shattered a backboard. McGary eventually made official visits to the University of Michigan, Duke University, and the University of Kentucky. A groundskeeper at Duke once told the story of McGary when on his official visit consoling a crying freshman when his parents dropped her off. The groundskeeper said that he saw him from a distance, excused himself from conversation, and ran over to comfort the freshman.

McGary eventually committed to Michigan alongside Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

College

At the beginning of his freshman year, McGary was forced to come off the bench for the Wolverines. Despite this, Mitch made an impact early. In his third game of the season, McGary accumulated 9 rebounds in 18 minutes. McGary would go on to receive two Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards during the regular season.

During the NCAA Tournament, the national spotlight was shining on McGary and the Wolverines. After a 13-9 performance against South Dakota State in McGary's third start of the year, he got the nod again in Round 2. In a 25 point win over VCU, Mitch racked up 21-14 on 10-11 shooting. With pressure mounting as the Wolverines advanced in the tournament, McGary stepped up his game another notch. Against Kansas, McGary put up a cool 25-14 on 12-16 shooting in a win against one of college basketball's traditional powers. Michigan would eventually lose in the National Championship to Louisville, but everyone knew Mitch McGary's name and his future looked bright.

After forgoing entry in the 2013 NBA Draft, McGary was a USA Today Preseason All-American. However, due to back injuries, McGary was not able to meet those expectations. McGary ended up averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds in 8 games during his sophomore year.

After Michigan's Sweet Sixteen victory against Tennessee in which McGary didn't play, he tested positive for marijuana. Facing a one year suspension if he were to return, McGary decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, even with his draft stock falling.

In an apparent predetermined promise, McGary was drafted by Oklahoma City with the 21st pick.

Preseason Expectations

After showing out during Orlando Summer League (and this dunk) , McGary's preseason expectations may have bee a bit high. Regardless, he tipped off Oklahoma City's injury problems with a broken foot during his first preseason game.

Regular Season Grade: B-

After missing more than half the season with injuries, McGary showed fans what he could do towards the end of the year, especially as an occasional fill-in starter. McGary ended up averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds, though his impact did seem like more.

Most Notable Game/Moment: 19-10 vs Clippers

With Kendrick Perkins (R.I.P) suspended and Steven Adams breaking his hand early in the game, McGary stepped up. Watching Mitch do wind sprints up and down the court, hitting fast break layup after fast break layup, might have been my favorite game of the year.

Mcgary's hustle even earned praise from NBA scribe Zach Lowe, who described McGary running to be like "The Kramer;" you can't look away!

Look at all that churning effort, the weirdly stiff arms and hands, the eager glance backward that says, "Please pass me the ball, I'm open, I'm running really fast, so fast, like the wind, am I going to get the ball?" He's like a dog looking for a Frisbee.

Jokes aside, big men who run the floor suck in defenders and open up shots for teammates. Good on the rookie for playing out the ball.

Future Expectations

As the 4th/5th big man going into next season, McGary's role looks to be similar to this year's. A spark plug, 7-10 minute guy that'll go get you 6 and 5. 2016-17 is when McGary will likely take all of the backup PF minutes.