With the 21st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Mitch McGary from the University of Michigan.
McGary is a 6-foot-10, 255-pound power forward whose draft stock soared after a surprising freshman season in which he helped Michigan to the NCAA title game. But he returned for a sophomore season with the Wolverines despite being considered a top 10 pick in last year’s draft only to battle back injuries and ultimately miss the majority of the season following back surgery.
He appeared in only eight games this season, averaging 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.9 steals in 24.6 minutes. As a freshman, McGary averaged 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 19.7 minutes. He appeared in all 39 games.
McGary, 22, declared for the draft after testing positive for marijuana in this year’s postseason, an infraction that carries a one-year suspension under NCAA rules.
McGary was widely projected to be a second-round selection this year following his injury-plagued season, but the Thunder again showed it will not hesitate to select a player higher than he is projected if the organization feels he is the right fit.
During his two years at Michigan, McGary earned a reputation for being a hard worker, a quick learner, a relentless rebounder and an all-out hustle player. He showed his ability to step away from the basket and hit mid-range shots, as well as battle for offensive rebounds and putbacks. McGary is not a back-to-the-basket scorer at this stage of his career, but he has good athleticism and all-around skills for a player his size. His ability to pass from the high post, attack the basket with one or two dribbles and finish around the rim made him a constant offensive threat.