Jordan McRae played a major role in the transition of Tennessee basketball. A recruit of Bruce Pearl, McRae blossomed into a leading scorer and top guard in the SEC. A top 20 points scorer in the country last year, McRae and fellow NBA prospect Jarnell Stokes led the Volunteers to their first NCAA tournament appearance since the 2010-11 season — Pearl’s last in Tennessee.
McRae is a versatile two guard that has a place in the NBA.
He is an emerging scorer that has learned how to use his physical skills on the defensive end to be successful. In a conference full of NBA talent, there is no doubt that McRae sticks out as the best defender. As Reid Forgrave of Fox Sports reminded us in his latest mock draft.
Said an SEC coach, who called McRae his conference’s best defender: “If I were an NBA guy, I’d be foaming at the mouth to get a guy like that. He can shoot it from deep. He can run. He’s athletic in transition. He can guard. He’s got long arms. That’s an NBA nightmare.”
The man that Volunteer fans have deemed the Orange Mamba is athletic, humble, and ready to expand his game to a new level.
Height: 6′ 5″
Hometown: Hinesville, GA
PPG: 18.7 | FG %: 44% | FT %: 79% | 3P %: 35% | RPG: 3.5 | APG: 2.5 | Win Shares: 6.2
“I’ve been listening to that the SEC has been a football conference for a long period of time however I have no idea how you can still mention that when you’ve acquired three SEC colleges in the Sugary food 16.” – McRae after defeating Mercer to advance to the 2014 NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
Jordan McRae can flat out score. What has made him so valuable over the last two years is that he can take over ballgames with you need it, with some pretty good efficiency. As a freshman and sophomore he was often considered just a jump shooter, but McRae elevated his game drastically in all accords — especially his senior season. Not only is he a highlighter dunker that can throw it down with authority, but he is also a great secondary ball handler that understands the ebb and flow of offenses.
From the pick and roll, he’s found a happy medium on whether to shoot open jumpers when the defense drags to the bucket or to dish off to the cutter in the low post. His vision and ball-handing have drastically improved.
Part of it has to do with switching back to his natural position, after playing point guard for the Vols his junior year. Still, his decision making improved to the extent of shaving off a turnover per game from his average.
When it comes to his jumper, McRae is a great catch and shoot player. What makes him so dangerous off the dish is his quick release and devastating first move generally towards the basket. He also uses that skill to his advantage when defenses try to shut down his drive to the basket. If he sees a close out coming, he’s not afraid to stop and pop from different ranges.
Besides dishing and scoring, McRae is a good rebounding guard and is not afraid to get second chance points.
Defensively, he is very active and probably one of the best prospects when it comes to on the ball coverage. Scouts say that he’s not athletic, but by golly — to make the plays that he has over his career, you have to be a top tier performer. McRae uses his lateral quickness to close gaps on shooters in front of them, and then when he gets to his destination — smothers them with his seven foot wingspan. He does a great job of using that to his advantage on defense.
It’s nearly unheard for a 6’5″ guard to average a block a game. Yet McRae is 13th all-time on the Tennessee career blocks list.
The Orange Mamba also uses that length laterally to bat balls out of the passing lane and straight to the glass on the offensive end.
The one thing you can never take away from Jordan McRae’s game is the simple fact that no matter what his role is, he has a positive effect on the game. His 6.2 win shares this season was second best in the SEC.
Sometimes I feel like scouts reach to find weaknesses in players, and with McRae it truly seems to be the case. How can it be a weakness that Jordan McRae has a smaller body mass and only weighs in at 180 pounds? If it’s such a weakness that he doesn’t have enough muscle, then why has he been able to perform at the level he is now?
Does McRae need to add to his frame? Sure. It bugs me though when those types of issues become weaknesses.
To the same extent, there are a lot of things that could be perfected more in his game. McRae has been known to force shots at times throughout his career. He vastly improved that issue during his senior season, but he’ll need to improve it even more at the next level. As a perimeter shooter, he isn’t super consistent and could work on perfecting his shooting mechanics to increase his shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
For any player though transitioning into the NBA, the next step is to hone in all of your skills.
If McRae does that and really perfects what he is good at, he has a long future in this league.
Fitting the Pistons Glove
Despite having Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the roster, Jordan McRae could play a solid role for the Pistons during the 2014-15 season. He fits the Van Gundy defensive mold, as does KCP, and would add tremendous depth at guard.
Because of his experience at point, he could serve as the third point guard at times if needed, as well as create a defensive juggernaut of a backcourt if he’s on the floor at the same time as Caldwell-Pope.
Instantly, he can also become the bench scoring presence that Rodney Stuckey was a year ago. Currently he’s projected as the 60th pick in the draft, but if the Pistons pass on him at #38 — they should definitely consider giving him a look in Summer League play.