Doug McDermott is spearheading the Indiana Pacers’ elite shooting bench this season, but the evolution of the rest of his game has allowed him to thrive.
Since the middle of the 2010s, bench shooting has been extremely inconsistent for the Indiana Pacers. Going back to the 2013-14 season the Pacers’ bench has finished 17th, 4th, 30th, 5th, 22nd, 5th, and 3rd in 3-point percentage. Teams typically try to have their numbers ascend year-to-year, not look like an EKG.
The last two seasons have been a key outlier. Indiana is still one of the few teams still failing to fully embrace the 3-point revolution, but their high conversion rate helps negate the lack of volume. One of the biggest contributors to the bench’s success is Doug McDermott.
McDermott is shooting 47.2 percent from three this season (slightly higher than his 46.7 percent from the field overall) on nearly four attempts per game. When you look at the most recent 10 games, the deep numbers bump up even higher to 55.6 percent.
For many players, hot streaks like this would come with expectations for a slump to follow. The difference with McDermott is his slumps still come with serviceable numbers. The man hasn’t shot below 40 percent from deep since the 2016-17 season.
One big difference this season is the Creighton product’s impact hasn’t been entirely tied to his shotmaking. For much of his career, McDermott’s limited athleticism left him struggling to guard small forwards, which hurt his ability to stay on the floor. This season, he is playing a career high 81 percent of his minutes at power forward (up from 29 percent last season, his previous high-water mark) which has allowed him to post the best defensive rating since his rookie season.
McDermott is also posting career highs in player efficiency rating, box plus/minus, and value over replacement player. Each of the individual stats come flaws, but together they paint a pretty clear picture: This is the most complete season McDermott has posted as a pro.
All season he has given the Pacers line-up versatility while they rest starters. McDermott can be paired with either Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis to give the rest of the squad extra spacing. His constant movement on the offensive end and his elite catch-and-shoot ability, forces defenders to constantly be engaged.
All of this culminates in his presence in two of the three 5-man Pacer line-ups that have posted a positive net rating this season. McDermott had already become a journeyman by the time he arrived in Indianapolis- playing for four teams in four years prior- but his contract is starting to look like a steal.
Elite shooters tend to fit seamlessly into any team, especially those as unselfish as Dougie McBuckets. Several of the teams hoping to compete in June still need to add shooting to open up their offense. Luckily for the Pacers, they are finally ahead of the curve.