The Golden State Warriors made an unpopular move on Monday after returning home from Japan, releasing high-flying guard Mac McClung, who was on an Exhibit 9 contract. McClung was then replaced on the roster by point guard Ty Jerome.
News of McClung’s release hit Warriors fans hard. He’s been a fan favorite in basketball circles since he was in High School, when he went viral on YouTube for his ridiculous dunks, all while eclipsing Allen Iverson’s single-season points record for the state of Virginia.
After playing in just two NBA games in his rookie year a season ago — one with the Chicago Bulls, and one with the Los Angeles Lakers — McClung joined the Warriors Summer League team, where he played quite well and endeared himself to Dub Nation. That carried over into training camp, and his one preseason game, where he played excellently.
But the Warriors, who never had an open roster spot for him to begin with, then released him. And at practice on Tuesday, coach Steve Kerr explained why, while praising McClung.
“I think we were interested in a more pass-first point guard,” Kerr told reporters. “Letting Mac go was tough. I love Mac, and I think he’s an NBA player. But I think for our roster, we needed more of a pass-first guy, and Ty is a very intriguing player because of his size, and his ability to see over the top of the defense, his pick and roll play. So it’s a great opportunity for us to get a look at him, and for him to play with our guys.”
"Letting Mac [McClung] go was tough. I think he's an NBA player." — Kerr pic.twitter.com/GDEj7x14vz— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 4, 2022
McClung did amass large assist totals last year, when he won G League Rookie of the Year honors. But he is a score-first guard, and most of his assists come as a result of getting past the initial line of defense, forcing a collapse, and finding the open man, and there have been concerns as to how well that will play at the NBA level.
Jerome, on the other hand, has slightly less gaudy assist totals, but collects them in a more traditional point guard fashion. As Kerr notes, he’s tall for the position — 6’5” on a bad day — and he’s very comfortable in the pick and roll. A first-round pick in 2019 (No. 24 overall), Jerome has played in each of the last three seasons, spending 2019-20 with the Phoenix Suns, and the last two years with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In 117 career games, Jerome has averaged 17.1 minutes, 7.1 points, and 2.4 assists per game, while shooting 34.4% from the three-point line and sporting a 48.8% true-shooting percentage. His scoring is a bit of a struggle, but he’s a good defender and pure passer.
With just three years in the league, Jerome is still eligible for a two-way contract. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him replace Lester Quiñones or Quinndary Weatherspoon.