In his two seasons with the Warriors, Patrick McCaw became something of a stand-in for Warriors-related angst.
Much like Jordan Bell, the Warriors sending cash to an opposing team for the right to draft a player to add to their already existing stockpile of talent was too much for the denizens of NBA Twitter to bear. Every flash shown by McCaw was followed by wailing to the tune of “I can’t believe that the league let the Warriors get this guy.”
The issue here is that much like most young wings selected late in the draft, McCaw has shown flashes, but has plenty of holes in his game. Playing on the Warriors is sort of the basketball ideal, but there were parts of McCaw’s game that even Steve Kerr’s egalitarian system couldn’t hide.
The most obvious flaw? His jumper. McCaw shot 27.3 percent on threes categorized as “wide open” by NBA.com. He also shot 27.3 percent (an odd coincidence) on catch-and-shoot threes.
This is a bit of an issue for the Cavaliers, who also run roughly two decent three-point shooters in their Kevin Love-less rotation. But beggars can’t be choosers.
On 1.4 three-point attempts per game last season, he shot a truly woeful 23.8 percent. Making matters worse, almost every single one of those attempts was wide open.
Offensively, McCaw is much better when he’s around the rim or when he’s wide open from three:
In a similar fashion to David Nwaba, McCaw’s offensive value is seen when he’s cutting baseline or from the wing once a defense has already been destabilized:
As noted, the Cavaliers could use any player that’s useful on offense, but another shooting-deficient wing doesn’t exactly fit what they’re looking for.
What the team is in desperate need of is an additional perimeter defender, and McCaw made early impact in his career on that side of the ball. At 6’7” with a 6’10” wingspan, his length allows him to cover more ground than you’d expect.
Part of being a strong perimeter defender in the NBA is as simple as staying attached. George Hill made a reputation of perimeter defense by playing this way, and McCaw is similarly skilled at staying attached to his man’s hip and using his wingspan to affect the shot attempt at the end of the play:
Outside of defense, McCaw doesn’t appear at first glance to be a particularly good fit on this Cavs team right now. He adds another non-shooter to a cramped floor and he needs a competent primary creator to open up creases for him to attack.
With that said, he fills even more obvious needs for this Cavaliers in the long-term and the short-term. He is young, ostensibly talented, and an NBA-level player. The Cavaliers can’t say that for much of their roster, especially now. The team just suited up nine healthy players for a game last week.
If McCaw can do a little career rehab and take advantage of the opportunity, he can force his way into the Cavaliers future. They need to take as many chances on players like McCaw as they can, and they’ve structured his deal to make the risk as small as possible.
Andrew Bynum taught us that there’s no thing as a no-risk signing, but McCaw is as close to that as you can get. He’s owed $6 million over two years, but the contract doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 7, and at that price point, paying him either way isn’t particularly painful.
After a sophomore season marred by a scary injury and a genuinely strange restricted free agency, the buzz is noticeably less significant and several months into the season, McCaw has a new home in Cleveland. He has shown the skillset and mind for the game that indicates he can become a strong contributor on a good team moving forward.
Now he has the chance to do so without the spotlight of the Warriors on him.