Welcome to Pounding the Rock’s 2022-23 player reviews! The series will look at all 16 players that finished the season with the Spurs (minus Khem Birch since he never suited up), so we won’t be reviewing players like Stanley Johnson or Isaiah Roby. In the next edition, we will be taking a look at Doug McDermott’s performance and his outlook for the future.
2022-23 Stats: 64 games, 10.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 41% 3P
2022-23 Salary: $13.75 million
Contract Status: 1 year, $13.75 million remaining
Doug McDermott found himself in one of the worst situations a veteran can encounter. An organization that originally brought him in hoping he would help it remain relevant changed courses and decided to bottom out. Even in the best of circumstances, a player with clear limitations like McDermott could see his role fluctuate from the beginning of his contract to the back end, but once the Spurs decided to go young, it became clear that he would not be a big piece of the puzzle despite the three-year commitment the franchise made to him in 2021. His minutes went down compared to his first season in San Antonio despite the many absences the coaching staff had to deal with, and there were some nights when McBuckets was an afterthought.
Despite the situation, McDermott remained positive and productive. The marksman hit his outside shots at a good rate, moved without the ball to get buckets at the rim off cuts, and kept opposing defenses tethered to him on the perimeter to provide spacing for others. At a per-minute and per-possession level, he contributed more than the previous season, showing that he was always ready to answer the call when the team needed him. In his two years in San Antonio McDermott couldn’t replicate the impact he had in Indiana, but he has done enough on offense to be valuable. His competence on that end, combined with his good disposition and professionalism, almost made up for his limitations on the other end. Almost.
McDermott has always been a defensive liability, but his struggles on that end are made even more glaring by a system that requires him to be comfortable with switching and by teammates that often didn’t know where to be to help him. The effort was always there, but when opponents forced isolations against him, he simply didn’t have the foot speed to stay with guards. If he had been able to at least be a disruptive force off the ball or help quarterback the defense, his struggles on the ball wouldn’t have mattered as much, but McDermott is not that type of player. The Spurs' defense was an abject disaster no matter who was on the court, so it would be unfair to point to McDermott as the biggest problem, but he certainly was not part of any possible solution.
McDermott still has a year left on his contract with the Spurs, but he’s not a part of the future. It was a surprise that he wasn’t traded along with Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson around the trade deadline last season, and it would be a shock to see him wearing Silver and Black past the next one. Ideally, San Antonio would find a team looking for some shooting that would offer a second-rounder before opening night, but McBuckets’ sizable deal could make matching salaries hard. Taking on a big contract with multiple years remaining just to get rid of him wouldn’t make much sense, but if someone wants to sweeten the pot in order to dump a long-term deal in hopes of getting some production during the season and cap relief after it, the Spurs should be open to it.
With that said, if the market for McDermott truly is frigid, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have him around for a while longer instead of just waiving him, as long as the coaching staff gives him the appropriate role. It’s unlikely there’s a huge drop-off in production considering his age and the way he plays, so he won’t tank his value, whatever it may be, just by being on the court for 15 to 20 minutes a night. As an eight or ninth-man who comes in, moves a lot on offense and spaces the floor, he could still be helpful, provided he’s not taking minutes that could be going to a younger player with potential. He was clearly fine with getting less playing time last season, so unless he feels differently about it entering a contract year, there should be no issues in the locker room.
April 2 vs. Sacramento Kings: 30 points on 15 shots, two rebounds.
Final grade: C+
Up next: Zach Collins