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OKC Thunder: Mitch McGary shows ball-handling skills in Orlando

by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 8, 2014

Mitch McGary has impressed as much with his ball-handling and passing at the Orlando Pro Summer League as he has with his rebounding and hustle.

It’s become one of the biggest surprises surrounding the 21st overall pick out of Michigan.

On several possessions, McGary has pulled down defensive rebounds and initiated the fast break not with an outlet pass but by pushing the ball himself in transition. On occasion, he’s kept it the entire way, penetrating the painted area and dumping off to a fellow big man or kicking it out to shooters.

There was a sequence 55 seconds into Monday’s game in which McGary had the ball at the high post, used two power dribbles toward the rim, drew a second Brooklyn defender and dumped off a pass to Marcus Lewis at the last second for a layup. It was a play that, among current Thunder big men, maybe only Nick Collison could make. Maybe.

“In high school, my coach always told me to go in the post, but I’m so danged stubborn I just would go out and start dribbling, man,” McGary explained when asked where he got his ball-handling skills. “From then on, in AAU, I just would practice my dribbling with the guards and I got a feel for the ball. It helps.”

McGary also attempted a 3-pointer in each of his first two games in Orlando. He missed both but not by much. And he surprisingly looked comfortable taking them.

“Don’t get used to it,” McGary said, laughing. “I’m sure when the other guys get back they’re going to be like, ‘Hey, Mitch, hold up, rook.’”

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