2019-20 Toronto Raptors Player Preview: Patrick McCaw, agent of chaos

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Patrick McCaw is finally on the cusp of something new in his career: not being on a Finals contender. He’s bounced from the Golden State Warriors to a short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and ended up on the roster of the Toronto Raptors last season. Because of that, McCaw now has three ginormous, diamond-studded rings of his own in exactly three years. While he’s never quite been a game-changer thus far, he has been on teams bolstered with future Hall of Famers, which hopefully means he’s picked up some good habits.

Now, McCaw returns to the Raptors and may finally get to showcase his skillset with more open minutes — and more modest team expectations.

Role on the Team

McCaw’s role in Toronto will likely be as a bench player, but it is unsure where he stands in the rotation before training camp. The Raptors lost a lot of superstar power over the course of free agency and, in turn, rebuilt the roster with defensive players that may take precedence over McCaw, no slouch defensively either. Players like Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are seemingly going to get more attention initially.

On the other hand, McCaw can still be an asset to Toronto if he shows improvement in certain areas (see the next section). The new additions to the Raptors haven’t been in contending situations and McCaw can take advantage of having been through the ups-and-downs of high expectations.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, last season with Toronto, albeit a relatively small sample size with 26 games played, McCaw had averages of 2.7 points, 1.0 assists, and 1.5 rebounds per game on an average of 13.2 minutes per game. Of course, these numbers aren’t too much to brag about, but he wasn’t expected to do much other than be a part of a bench unit that was supposed to hold leads. Unfortunately, McCaw did not exactly help do that, considering he had a negative point differential at minus-5.2 when on the court with Toronto last season.

What it really boils down to is that McCaw hasn’t had much—if any—of an opportunity to show his skillset. Toronto considers him to be someone who can play the one-, two-, or three-spot, given his frame and ability. And this season, he’ll definitely get more playing time to show it out on the court. McCaw holds all the cards to determine his future in the NBA.

Needs Improvement

It would be easy to suggest an inordinate number of goals for McCaw, but let’s stick to accomplishable items here.

First, McCaw has to improve his three-point shot. Over the course of his career, he stands at 29.9 percent from beyond the arc. He’s had stints and seasons that have seen it as high as 33.3 percent, but no higher than that so far over a long period of time in his career. If McCaw can increase this to 35 percent or greater, he’ll be a real asset to stretch the floor for Toronto, a team now in dire need of shooting. Remember now, McCaw is listed at 6’7”, so he has the height to shoot above smaller defenders, but has to make himself a threat from deep before being taken seriously.

With an increased percentage in three-point shooting, McCaw will also affect his finishing at the rim, which has been where most of McCaw’s scoring has come from, according to Cleaning the Glass.


Cleaning the Glass

With the Raptors, McCaw’s effective field goal percentage of 53.2 ranks him at the 71 percentile for wing players. Easy shot attempts at the rim help bolster that percentage and he’s shown a knack for getting to the rim. As well, McCaw showed an improvement on his free throw percentage last season, so he’ll need to maintain that percentage especially if he’s relying on drives into the paint as his primary source of offense.

Lastly, McCaw needs to improve his overall defense. McCaw’s length helps him get steals, but he also has a tendency to pick up fouls while doing so. It’s hard to ultimately judge his defense because of the short minutes he relies on. McCaw often comes onto the court cold and is asked to maintain a lead for Toronto. This season could really suggest his reliability as a defender. If McCaw shows he has good defensive tendencies, then he can play himself up the rotation. Otherwise, it may be back to the bench.

Expectation

Ultimately, McCaw is going to have to make the best of the minutes he is given. If he proves to be trustworthy on offense and defense despite coming off the bench for the Raptors, he can be a considerable asset as a versatile wing for his team.