Golden State Warriors

2016-17 Warriors Season Review: Someday soon, Patrick McCaw is going to be the best player in the league

I was at the 2016 NBA Draft when the Warriors bought into the second round, getting Patrick McCaw from the Milwaukee Bucks. To be honest, I had no idea who the dude was. However, an immediate scouring of his stats showed some impressive trends.

The Warriors, who have a stupidly impressive recent draft record when it comes to late first or early second round picks (read: Draymond Green), seemed to have struck gold once again with the lanky, talented kid from UNLV.

Then, July 4th happened. Kevin Durant happened. The NBA screamed in fear, and everyone forgot about Patrick McCaw. Well, everyone except us silly, die-hard Warriors heads who, for years, had only ever gotten excited about fringe talents like Anthony Randolph and Anthony Morrow. Who had only had dreams of Gilbert Arenas staying, or of Charles Jenkins developing into a rotational player. To this day, dreaming about iffy Warriors’ draft picks turning into stars is what we do. It’s who we are. So, yeah, even while all the Durant drama was unfolding, I still found myself wondering over and over again if Pat McCaw could turn into a solid player. Heck, I thought, maybe he could one day be an All-Star. Maybe, just maybe, he could be transcendent. Lord knows we’d seen it already with Draymond Green. Even if the glory never came true for Randolph or Morrow, this time it would be different. This time, now led by Bob Myers, the Warriors couldn’t lose. McCaw would blossom. It was preordained.

You know what the crazy thing is? Pat McCaw might just be all that and more.

At some point this season, we all realized McCaw had the guts and gusto to be a Player with a capital P.

People started calling his name like a bird call. “MccccCAAAAAAAAAWWWW.” I started (seriously, jump on this bandwagon before it’s leading ESPN or whatever) the #McCawllStar hashtag whenever discussing his better games. On a team loaded with future hall of famers, he became an instant fan favorite.

McCaw is the exact type of talent we’ve been rooting for for years. He fits here. As Warriors fans, we may not know how to root for a juggernaut, we may not feel comfortable being the “super villains” of the NBA — it’s all still too new, too raw, and too unbalanced for most of us — but we sure as hell know how to root for a skinny second round pick out of a (recently) non-powerhouse basketball school.

That being said, Nate Parham might be Pat McCaw’s biggest fan(boy). For example, a few paragraphs back, I said, “On a team loaded with future hall of famers, he became an instant fan favorite,” and I guarantee you Nate immediately changed that sentence in his mind to: “a team loaded with future hall of famers, including my grown son Pat McCaw.” There’s not a doubt in my mind that he was mad at me for not stating the obvious: McCaw is a guaranteed future hall of famer, multiple-time MVP, and Finals MVP.

Nate is — to put it lightly — obsessed by McCaw’s upside, convinced that he’s “the one.” Which is hilarious, because the Golden State Warriors are already loaded with a bunch of dudes who already are “the one” in their own way. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all homegrown. It’s ridiculous. When did the Warriors start drafting talent, developing talent, and then not shipping away said talent for inferior veterans with bigger names?!

Oh right, Bob Myers.

Okay, back to McCaw’s actual season, as opposed to his guaranteed future.

Here, let’s watch some fun videos.

Where the magic all began:

When the magic extended to the Western Conference Finals:

Where we are headed:


Before the summer — right before the Warriors watched as confetti floated down upon their upturned faces — McCaw did something that really drove home his importance, and his upside.

In Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals, Pat McCaw played 12 minutes, good for sixth best on the Warriors, including three crucial minutes in the tight fourth quarter. He ended up with six points on 2-5 shooting, but his activity and presence made it possible for Steve Kerr to play the rookie on the biggest stage. When he was drafted in the second round, did you imagine you’d see him pulling down the sixth most minutes in a closeout game of the NBA Finals on a team that also featured Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson? Did you imagine he’d have a bigger impact on the game than NBA veterans Zaza Pachulia, David West, and perhaps most surprisingly Shaun Livingston? Would any of these things been conceivable that warm June night in Brooklyn, when the Warriors bought the pick from the Bucks?

Moving forward, will the Warriors be able to keep the young star? As Anthony Slater (now of The Athletic) pointed out in the Mercury News last month, the fact that McCaw was a second round pick opens him up to tricky contract negotiations sooner than would be the case if he’d been drafted in the first round.

Via Slater:

It’s a situation that has crept up on the Warriors quickly. McCaw was the 38th overall pick in the draft just 13 months ago. Immediately, he morphed into the exact thing a team with expensive superstar talent needs: Cheap, useful labor off the bench.

[…]

And that’s where the benefits of his second-round status shift from the Warriors to McCaw. First-round rookie contracts contain team options for a third and fourth year. McCaw’s doesn’t. He can hit restricted free agency two years before the first 30 players selected in his same draft.

Either way, it’s been an exhilarating ride for a player who is still so young (only 21), and a fan base that is still more acquainted to cheering for misfit second rounders than world-breaking doom-bringers of NBA domination. Patrick McCaw is the exact type of player that Warriors fans love to root for. Let’s hope we get to do it for a long, long time.

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