Believe it or not, four years ago I posted a Summer League scouting report on new Warriors player Dominic McGuire. The good news? It's still pretty much the same scouting report I'd give today. The bad news? It's pretty much the same scouting report I'd give today.
Randomly, I also studied a lot of Ish Smith's game, both during the college season and while he was competing with Jeremy Lin for a training camp invite at the Portsmouth Invitational two years ago. And last year, as the Miami Heat embarked on their journey, an early season loss to a solid Indiana Pacers team had me eyeing Brandon Rush a little more than usual.
So here's my take on McGuire. He's as solid a defensive stopper as you can obtain on the market. I'm a basketball purist. I love the ability to play one-on-one defense (although understanding the concept of team defense, which does not necessarily require awesome one-on-one skills, is important too). One of the most important elements of defense is communicating where you are and where other defenders are or should be. McGuire is good at this, as I alluded to four years ago:
I'm sure I'm going against the grain here, but IMHO the best player on the court was the Wizards' Dominic McGuire. He was certainly better than fellow draftee Nick Young. Whether or not he was better than Francisco Garcia is now open for debate.
McGuire is a 6'7", 220-lb forward out of Fresno State. I'm thinking maybe the Fresno State vs USC brand name hurt his stock in the draft, as well as Young appearing in the NCAA tourney spotlight. McGuire is built rock solid and he uses that muscle. He hustles after every rebound. He attacks the rim, but not with reckless abandon or anything. He just uses his athleticism to his advantage. He also has a great attitude. He never complains and just hustles. Every team needs a guy like him and there simply aren't too many hustle guys like him in this era of NBA ball.
The best thing about him is his defense. He's quick enough for a 6'7" small forward (if he had a consistent outside shot, he could be moved to the 2) to beat the guy he's covering to the spot. He drew a travel-that-would-have-been-a-charge on Garcia in the paint late in the game, but I have my reservations about Garcia as you'll see below. At #47, McGuire was a solid pick. Just based on his defense, power game, and athleticism alone, I see no reason why we won't see McGuire in the NBA for a long time.
I then followed that up a year later re-iterating my "man crush". Well, that man-crush has subsided a bit. At the time, I figured his offense would come along eventually and, my oh my, what a more complete player he'd become.
*Biermp*... He is still the same on offense. He must have the same disease as Lin because his stroke has not been retooled from scratch and still has fundamental flaws which will prevent him from EVER becoming a good shooter (at least from what I remember; I did not catch the first preseason game vs the Sacramento Kings). And because I'm a purist who wants all basketball players to continue to improve and work on their weaknesses, I am a bit disappointed, four years later. For example, I would definitely take Nick Young now over McGuire, as any sane person would.
Still, Dominic's a damned good stopper.
Smith had some good moments last year with the Rockets. I was skeptical about his basketball IQ when I saw him in person at Portsmouth two years ago. He seemed to be a "Speedy Gonzalez" who didn't really have a plan out there on the court. His game seemed very instinctive. And he lacked a jumpshot. Moreover, I didn't see anything to write home about in setting teammates up (i.e., assists).
But in this day and age of the NBA, if you're quick and can handle the rock around a big man's high screen, you're in business. Once you bolt pass that screen and none of the remaining four defenders can really stop your quickness, you can do some damage, especially if you continue to improve your ability to convert at the rim. On the other hand, he'll create but also be subject to mismatches.
Finally, with Brandon Rush, I'd say from my non-thorough analysis of him, very superficially he's a Poor Man's David West, without West's ability to receive the ball in a post-up (Rush is more of a face-up player, unfortunately). The few games I saw of the intriguing Pacers, who weirdly fell into a funk after the Heat win, which led to Jim O'Brien's firing, Rush showed a nice touch from midrange and a bulldog attitude. So while he has a nice stroke, I certainly would not classify him as a finesse player. And the Warriors need more guys like that.
Also, based on my limited viewings of the Pacers last year, I'm a bit surprised the Pacers were willing to promote Paul George so quickly. While he is definitely a much more electrifying player/finisher than Rush will ever be, Rush has more of a steady "pace" (no pun intended) to his game, i.e., while Rush isn't necessarily that athletic, he knows his limitations and stays within himself. Sure, George has a higher ceiling, but I felt that Rush was more consistent and knew where to go on the court, while George seemed wet behind the ears. Bottom line: Rush is a borderline starter in the NBA. Not bad as far as a backup for Dorell is concerned.
These three "rough-around-the-edges" pickups are a nice departure from the Warriors mold of the past. Now watch as they all play passively and blow this scouting report to smithereens.