NBA Draft Preview: Mocks eye first round selection for McBride

Gold and Blue Nation

Photo: Dale Sparks

The lives of 60 young men will dramatically change on Thursday when they hear their name called in the 2021 NBA Draft, which is set to begin Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

West Virginia’s Miles “Deuce” McBride is one of those young men, and he has steadily increased his standing on draft boards across the league since the season’s end. The sophomore guard finished the season leading the Mountaineers in minutes and scoring, picking up All-Big 12 Second Team honors along the way. Soon after the season’s end and while his future was still in the balance, McBride was widely pegged as a second round selection in the upcoming draft.

McBride’s stock started to rise throughout the spring and into the summer, culminating in an invitation to the NBA Combine in June. A week before he went to show off his skills to the league, though, he took a trip to Boston for a pre-draft workout.

McBride impressed at the combine, logging the largest wing span and hands of this year’s guard class, while placing highly in several strength and agility drills. He not only caught the eye of NBA teams, but analysts as well, who started to raise his place on their mock drafts.

Scouts and analysts praise McBride’s physical characteristics (especially his difference between wingspan and barefoot height), as well as his scoring ability and defensive effort and prowess.

“For me, he’s a guy that I would consider as early in the late teens to early 20s, personally,” Jon Chepkevich of The Analyst told Gold and Blue Nation during the combine.

Now, every team’s draft boards are all but set. Here’s where the latest mock drafts see McBride starting his professional career:

The star-studded and disappointed Nets are looking to rearm after falling in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With three stars already making over $35 million per year and some role players possibly on the move, there’s no doubt that they will look to the draft to make an addition in the form of either a pick, trade or both.

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo knows this, and says if Brooklyn opts to scoop up a rookie without trading up, McBride could be a good fit with the possibility of an instant impact off the bench.

“Optimistic scouts think he has the chops to anchor bench units, and McBride’s poised, no-frills game would fit in Brooklyn,” Woo writes.

This would be a dream for West Virginia fans — Deuce and JC on the same bench.

The Suns broke out in 2020-21, making a run to the NBA Finals for the first time in nearly three decades. Just as it goes with small market teams that make a deep run, though, many of the team’s key role players (specifically, O’Connor cites Cam Payne, who contributed 19 minutes and 9.3 points in this year’s Playoffs) will be asking for a big payday this offseason, or finding a new home.

For this reason, O’Connor says the “gritty” McBride would be a great fit for the Suns.

“Drafting a point guard like McBride would make complete sense. He brings similar scoring potential off the bench and more defensive intensity,” he writes.

The Rockets weren’t the same since they traded star guard James Harden to the Nets early in the 2020-21 season, managing just 17 wins on the year under coach Stephen Silas. They ranked close to the bottom of the league in nearly every defensive statistic, while getting outscored by nearly 10 points every contest.

Calling him a “shorter Jrue Holiday,” Iko admits he likes McBride better than other analysts, but he could be an antidote to some of Houston’s ills.

He’s undersized but the length, quick-twitch skills and motor are insane. In some ways, he’ll be able to cover up for [Gerald] Green and [Kevin] Porter’s deficiencies,” Iko writes.

Coming off its second championship in history, the Bucks don’t have many needs — but some additional depth has never hurt a team, especially as its stars approach 30 years old.

The Bucks could lose as many as three guards off their bench, including Bryn Forbes, who contributed 6.6 points for the team in 20 playoff appearances this year. If the hunch of analysts that McBride could be an immediate bench fit is correct, then he could be a perfect candidate to fill that spot.

After a strong regular season headlined by league MVP Nikola Jokic, Denver took an early tumble in the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Suns in four. At season’s end, the Nuggets now have just one shooting guard on the roster in PJ Dozier, and he just completed the final year of his contract.

McBride, a versatile guard, could be a perfect fit for Denver’s bench. He especially impressed Byrum and Hughes of NBC Sports, who praised his play on the defensive end.

“In college he played primarily as a point guard, but has more a combo guard’s skillset,” they wrote. “Opponents will have match with their own top-tier defender as he can effectively score at all three levels.”

If this year’s playoffs showed anything about the Sixers, it’s that they need more shooting around frontcourt centerpiece Joel Embiid.

On top of McBride’s defense, which seems to headline every bit of his draft analysis, McBride’s improved three-point shooting percentage (up 11 percent from his freshman to sophomore seasons) catches the attention of a lot of scouts and analysts as a testament to his ability on offense.

Again, the Nets are looking for reinforcements after their disappointing 2020-21 postseason run, and Ward-Henninger is high on McBride to be one of the cavalrymen on his way to Brooklyn. Ward-Henninger notes McBride’s versatility as a guard, while praising his strong defensive efforts and abilities.

“McBride could slide in nicely as a combo guard off the bench capable of both scoring and facilitating. He’s also a tenacious defender with a powerful frame, which should make him ready to play right away,” he wrote.

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