Doug McDermott and T.J. Warren: Same NBA position, but very different skill sets

rbonnell@charlotteobserver.comJune 14, 2014 

There’s no doubt the Charlotte Hornets could use another scorer at small forward. They checked out a couple of good ones Saturday.

The Hornets hosted a pre-draft workout that featured Creighton’s Doug McDermott and N.C. State’s T.J. Warren. McDermott, who averaged 26.7 points last season, is best known for his shooting range. Warren, who averaged 24.9 points last season, is more of a driver.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford liked what he saw from both.

“Skilled, smart, really good basketball IQ and high, high character,” Clifford said when asked about McDermott, who stayed four years at Creighton.

At 6-foot-8, McDermott shot 45 percent from the college 3-point line. There’s been some talk of McDermott playing power forward, but Clifford says “his size will dictate that he’s a small forward.”

Clifford was impressed with the defensive instincts Warren demonstrated during the 90-minute workout.

“Anticipates defensively, really good with his hands,” Clifford said of 6-8 Warren. “He’s a talented guy. I could see him being able to defend multiple positions.”

The Hornets have the ninth and 24th picks in the first round of the June 26 draft. They would probably have to select McDermott ninth to get him. There’s some small chance Warren might still be available with the 24th pick, but more likely he projects in the teens.

They both raise questions in this pre-draft evaluation.

McDermott will be challenged at the NBA level to guard shorter, quicker players at small forward. He appreciates the difference in athleticism between opponents in college and what he might see in the NBA. But he’s not deterred.

“I think I’ll be fine. It will be an adjustment, but in the NBA it’s team defense – you have a lot of great defenders on the floor” to help, McDermott said. “I’m ready to prove I can do it.”

Effective as Warren was at getting to the rim (he shot 58 percent from two-point range), he shot just 27 percent from 3-point range last season.

“I’m sure he knows this, but one of the differences in the NBA, where the (players) are older, is they’re going to make you (attempt) your jumper,” Clifford said. “If he wants to score consistently, like every other player, he’ll have to make his jumper first.”

Warren gets that.

“I want to mix it up a little bit inside and out, show I have a jump shot,” Warren said. “And I think I’m making progress at that.”

These two are at the same spot after very different college careers. McDermott played for his father at Creighton, using all four years of eligibility. Warren had a breakout sophomore season after shaking up his conditioning program.

“Last summer was big as far as transforming my body. I lost weight and became more agile and quicker,” Warren said. “Eating the right things and taking care of my body – listening to my strength-and-conditioning coach.”

Rick Bonnell: (704) 358-5129; @rick_bonnell

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