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Patrick McCaw’s NBA future depends on this season

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Fan favorite Patrick McCaw showed poise, defensive potential, and shooting ability in his rookie season. Since he’ll be a restricted free agent in 2018, his upcoming season will determine his NBA destiny.

2017 Las Vegas Summer League - Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Despite a team full of stars, rookie Patrick McCaw became a fan favorite, just another example of the Warriors snagging a key player for pennies on the dollar.

Patrick McCaw was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 38th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and was traded to the Warriors for cash considerations. It was later revealed that the Warriors gave up 2.4 million dollars for McCaw, an incredibly high price. But basketball-wise, McCaw was acquired basically for free.

In his rookie season, McCaw played a decent 1074 minutes, even starting 20 games when Kevin Durant was injured. He averaged 9.5 points, 2.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.

His counting statistics were low, but McCaw’s future in the NBA will probably not produce eye-popping statistics. The best case scenario for McCaw is to become a defensive stopper with a jack-of-all-trades offensive game. These types of wings in high demand in today’s NBA.

McCaw will never be a superstar in the NBA. But he could become one of the best role players in the league, in time. He can even learn from one of the best glue guys in the league, Andre Iguodala. McCaw might not have the same strength or leaping ability, but he could potentially become a better shooter and offensive playmaker. In fact, he could even replace Iguodala’s role on the Warriors entirely as Iguodala ages.

McCaw shot a respectable 54% True Shooting and 33% from three last season. Many rookies have a bit of trouble adjusting to the longer three-point line, but McCaw’s shot looked fluid if a bit slow. Hitting 35% or more of this threes would consolidate his place in the Warriors’ rotation.

It’s a little absurd, but this season is already a contract year for McCaw. Because he was a second round pick, he’ll be a restricted free agent next offseason, and could potentially be on another team next season. The Warriors’ money is already tight, and McCaw would fit on pretty much any roster.

But there’s currently little money for restricted agents. Many intriguing restricted free agents this summer, such as Nerlens Noel, JaMychal Green, and Nikola Mirotic, found no market and settled for smaller deals. Many teams will have little future cap flexibility because of the large contracts they gave out during the 2016 offseason.

Additionally, McCaw might not receive much league-wide interest if he plays inconsistent minutes this season. He’s behind Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala on the depth chart, and new wings Nick Young and Omri Casspi will steal minutes too. If McCaw blows up this season, the Warriors would have to shell out a lot of cash to keep him, which would be great for the team currently, but less than ideal for the team’s future finances.

It’s only his sophomore season, but this season could really define Patrick McCaw’s career. He must show enough improvement to land a decent second contract, and hopefully show the potential to become a starter in a few years.