We are going to take a look at the players without guaranteed NBA deals on the training camp roster for the Golden State Warriors. They’re currently sitting at 19 of 20 spots filled, with the last one presumably held open for Andre Iguodala. First up is point guard Mac McClung, who signed an Exhibit 9 deal with the team.
Here’s what an Exhibit 9 deal means. It’s effectively a summer contract, and by rule it has to be for one year only, at the minimum salary. But unlike a standard NBA contract, Exhibit 9 deals have no protection for injuries. If a player on an Exhibit 9 deal gets hurt, the team can waive him and it only owes him $6,000. Essentially, this contract is to let someone come to training camp and compete for a roster spot without leaving the team on the hook for a full salary and roster spot in case he’s injured.
Mac McClung is on such an Exhibit 9 deal. He spent last season on a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, spending most of his time with the Lakers G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. He played 2:33 of one game with the injury-ravaged Chicago Bulls in December, and then played 22 minutes in the Lakers’ final game of the season, scoring six points and picking up a steal, a block, an assist, and five fouls. And he ended the season in style:
For his 13 games with the South Bay Lakers, McClung averaged 19.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds, while turning the ball over 2.7 times. McClung shot the ball very well, making over 40% of his three-pointers and 83% of his free throws. He also played for the Warriors at Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 13.4 points and 4.8 assists, and showing off some moves, particularly an ability to finish through contact.
McClung is small - but not Chris Chiozza-small - standing 6’2” and weighing 185 pounds. He went undrafted out of Texas Tech after his junior year, after spending his first two years of college at Georgetown. He led a pretty good Texas Tech team (#21 in the country at season’s end) with 15.5 points per game, and he was voted to the All-Big 12 second team. McClung’s defensive numbers were very strong that year, but college defensive statistics are probably not incredibly reliable. Let’s just say he wasn’t a bad defender in college.
But he’s much more famous than your usual undrafted pretty-good college guard, and that’s because of his dunking, and his famous cousin. When McClung was playing AAU basketball in Virginia, his cousin Horst Simco, better known as the Houston-based rapper Riff Raff, shared a video of McClung’s highlights to his Instagram. Very quickly, McClung and his dunks became an internet sensation. With his rising fame and his rising scoring - McClung scored a Virginia state record 47 points in a state title game - he received a scholarship to Georgetown.
And part of the novelty was certainly that he was a white guy doing those dunks. McClung does have very impressive athleticism - his 43 ½ inch vertical leap is outstanding, as is his 36-inch no-step standing leap. But part of the thrill is that McClung doesn’t look like he should be able to dunk the way that he does. He got the nickname “White Iverson” and became only the second white player since 1979 to accept a basketball scholarship to Georgetown.
Mac McClung registered the 7th highest max vertical leap in the history of the NBA Combine with his 43 1/2 inch jump. 36 inch no-step vert is also a top-20 mark historically. pic.twitter.com/f2c49YQP41— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 20, 2021
Who does McClung get compared to? Back when he was at Georgetown, analyst Fran Fraschilla said he was like a worse-shooting version of new Warrior Donte DiVincenzo. And that shot, while flawed, keeps improving. McClung shot 28% from three-point range as a freshman, 32% as a sophomore, and 34% from deep as a junior at Texas Tech. Last year in the G League, with a longer three-point line, McClung shot 40%, albeit in 13 games. College free throw shooting is often a better predictor of three-point shooting success than actual three-point percentage, and McClung made a solid 80% of his freebies in college.
McClung was always a score-first guard in high school and college, so it was encouraging to see him develop as a distributor for the South Bay Lakers last year - again, in a small sample size. He also led all point guards with 6.7 rebounds per game. And we all know the Warriors love a rebounding point guard. Just ask the point guard with the 5th-highest single-game rebounding total in Finals history, Steph Curry. It’s cliche to say that this or that player has that dog in them, but it also seems readily apparent that Mac McClung 100% has that dog in him.
So how does he fit with the Warriors? The easy answer is that, if Andre Iguodala comes back, he doesn’t. But if Andre decides to retire, the Warriors could use an additional ball handler in their backcourt. It comes down to three questions:
- Can McClung continue his improved outside shooting and prove that last year’s G League season was no fluke?
- Can McClung play acceptable defense? He’s not going to be a great defender, but he can’t get killed. The Warriors are going to have to trust that they could play him alongside Jordan Poole without their perimeter defense becoming a turnstile. And under Steve Kerr, the Warriors nearly always prioritize defenders over scorers.
- Can he outplay two-way point guard Lester Quinones, James Wiseman’s high school teammate, who is less explosive, but taller and a better outside shooter?
In all likelihood, McClung goes back to the G League, where the Warriors would love to have him in Santa Cruz. It’s not ridiculous to think he could get a two-way offer from another team, particularly if he has a good training camp. He’s not the worst option for the Warriors, but he’s also probably not the best. But if he does stick with the Sea Dubs, there will be a lot of mixtapes shot inside the Kaiser Permanente Arena next year.