Today in Fear the Sword’s season hiatus player review series: Two-way player, now full NBA contract, Alfonzo McKinnie. Follow the whole series here.
Key per game stats: 40 games played, 4.6 points per game, 21.5% three-point percentage on 1.6 attempts per game, 0.6 steals per game
Key advanced stats: 77th in DRPM; -0.5 VORP
Alfonzo McKinnie does not profile as a likely member of a rebuilding team. He’s 27 and found his niche in the NBA last year when he filled in minutes on an injured Warriors team that made it to the Finals. He’s someone that, in a vacuum, has more value on a playoff team than a rebuilding one like the Cavs.
All that said, McKinnie provides value to the Cavs right now and could into next season. He’s not a great wing defender — he’s 77th among small forward in DRPM — but he’s serviceable and plays smart. On a team where 19-year-old Kevin Porter Jr. often gets the top defensive assignment, that matters. He’s not going to be the best defender on the team whenever the Cavs make the playoffs again, but McKinnie is the bridge to the team finding one. Players like McKinnie — a 6’7”, low-usage wings with a sense of how to defend and, sans this year, a decent three-point shot — are valuable.
The organization likes McKinnie. Coaches describe him as the best wing defender on the team right now. They gave him a four-year deal — albeit with non-guarantees and at a low cap number — that would allow him to be around when, in theory, the Porter Jr.-Collin-Sexton-Darius Garland-2020 first-round pick core is ready to make a push towards something. Notably, per a league source, Dan Gilbert played a direct role in negotiating McKinnie’s deal and McKinnie’s camp believes the organization wants to have McKinnie around.
So, in theory, would McKinnie have more use right now on a team like the Lakers or the Bucks or the Clippers who have a real shot to win the title this year or whenever the next season is? Probably. You could also argue that the Cavs should have went after someone younger — think Stanley Johnson or someone of that ilk — last summer when bargain bin shopping. But McKinnie has helped the Cavs and he will continue to help them get where they are going, wherever that is.