If you were to watch the first half of the Thunder's first summer league game then switch channels, you would probably assume that Mitch McGary would continue his dominance through the final two quarters.
But if you watched the game from the tipoff to the final buzzer, you would see McGary's "two-sided" game: a notable performance that took a sharp turn after halftime. McGary finished the game with 8 points on 4-9 shooting, with 13 rebounds and an assist.
McGary, the only participating summer league player on the current Thunder roster, was unofficially assigned a role as the leader and star of the summer league squad. He held that title well in the first half. The 6'10'' McGary was forced to defend 7-footer Frank Kaminsky, but this height disadvantage was just a minor hitch to OKC's first round pick in the 2014 draft. McGary used his lower body strength to create distance between Kaminsky: bumping him with pivots, giving a quick jab on box outs. This side of Mitch McGary had me excited. He showed an unfamiliar comfort while shooting the ball.
"Last couple of months have been big for me. Getting in shape, knocking down 15-18 foot jump shots. I'm even trying to stretch out to the corner three but I'm not 100 percent comfortable yet," McGary said following the OKC victory. McGary held the National College Player of the Year to just four points on 2/9 shooting in the first half. Kaminsky missed all three of his three point attempts.
McGary also showed comfort passing the ball: he often found cutters, especially on backdoor cuts. It was an impressive first half for the rising sophomore.
Then things began to change.
Frank Kaminsky opened the third quarter with a pick and pop three ball, a situation in which McGary over committed to the ball handler. The former Badger followed the shot with another...and then another. Soon enough, McGary's assignment had drained three in a row solely off of pick and pops. Every single time, he tried to double team the ball handler, forgetting that Kaminsky shot 41.6% from behind the arc throughout his senior season.
"I made some mistakes today in terms of communicating and over-helping. I think we are going to go watch that and work on it," he said.
Kaminsky finished the day with 19 points, four 3-pointers, and 12 rebounds.
Either Kaminsky found his shot or McGary had too many things to juggle because the Mitch of the first half was certainly not the Mitch of the second. In the first half, he made sure Kaminsky had no breathing room. In the second, he gave the sharpshooter some space to work with.
But looking at the big picture, Mitch McGary had a nice day. He showed his capabilities to step out and shoot. He continued his reputation as a willing passer. And he showed signs of maturity.
- McGary said he lost around thirty pounds in a post-game interview. He said that he has taken cooking classes so he can learn how to cook a healthy meal: lean meat with vegetables.
- Some teammates call him "chef."
- McGary's weight lost clearly helps him on the floor. He never seemed winded and he moved really well for a guy his size. Kaminsky lost track of him some times because he was always moving.
- While McGary said he is eating healthier, he also stressed his love of sweets, but rarely touches any candy. He eats dark chocolate.
- There is nothing like watching Mitch McGary on the sidelines with the towel wrapped around his head. He is always standing up and encouraging his teammates.
- When asked about KD's influence on the sidelines, McGary said he was great with his words of encouragement, especially to the guys who are fighting for a spot on the team.
- McGary sees the entire floor when the ball is in his hands. There was one play when he drove to the basket and quickly turned to kick it out to an open man. It was like he had eyes in the back of his head.
- If he hadn't overcommitted to the ball handler and stayed closer to Kaminsky, this would've been a phenomenal game in all aspects.