Another day of being forced to watch from the bench is the last thing on McGary’s mind.
“It feels really good,” McGary said of his long-awaited return. “It’s been a long time coming, just to get back on the court. I was just doing everything I could to help the team win.”
The Thunder is not asking much from McGary. The goal for him is to run the floor hard, play solid pick-and-roll defense and learn the team’s terminology.
Teammates have no doubt McGary will be able to do those things.
“He’s very confident in himself,” said Thunder forward Perry Jones. “That’s something you need to be successful in this league. You need confidence. And that’s something I’ve seen since he’s been here. He’s been very confident. Hopefully we can push that a little more, make him even more comfortable.”
McGary moved his feet well on defense in the pick and roll, hedging out to wall off the ball-handler before scurrying back to his man underneath the basket. His lone blocked shot came with him as the weak side defender, the last line of defense that prevented what otherwise would have been an uncontested dunk.
Offensively, McGary looked extremely comfortable in the post. Throwing his weight around against fellow rookie Jarnell Stokes, a short but also stocky bruiser who, at 250 pounds, bullied opponents while at Tennessee, McGary had no trouble carving out space on the low block. On two possessions, McGary caught an entry pass and showed a quick and nifty spin off his man, dribbling once before finishing with a layup or dunk.
Aside from his non-stop energy, McGary’s power and physicality are what impressed the most.
“He’s just like another Steven (Adams),” Jones said.
Big. Strong. Physical. Skilled.
“He’ll do anything for the team,” Lamb said.