Although Javon McCrea's name wasn't called on NBA Draft night, he'll still get a shot to make an NBA roster. McCrea will be playing in the NBA Summer League with the Dallas Mavericks, as announced on Saturday.
The Mavericks will play at least four games in Vegas. Two of them will be shown on NBA TV, while one will online be available via online streaming (for $14.99). Once three games are played, the teams go into a playoff tournament to determine the winner of the Summer League. Here is the Mavericks' schedule:
|July 11||Knicks||Mavericks||4:00 pm||NBA TV|
|July 12||Mavericks||Timberwolves||6:30 pm|
|July 14||Raptors||Mavericks||6:00 pm||NBA TV|
McCrea was the 2014 MAC Player of the Year averaging 18.5 points and ten rebounds per game. He was also named Honorable Mention AP All-America and is Buffalo's career leading scorer.
The Buffalo star tore it up in college. But how does he project to the NBA? If you go by just physical stature, McCrea is the classic "tweener." He's not tall enough to play power forward in the NBA standing only six foot seven. Most guys that height are small forwards in the NBA and McCrea's game resembles nothing close to that of a small forward. He's the most comfortable down low grabbing rebounds and putbacks. That lack of height is likely why he didn't get drafted, because he has all the physical skills of an NBA power forward.
Being a tweener doesn't mean he won't be successful at the next level. Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks stands six foot eight and weighs 250 (similar to McCrea) and he averaged close to eighteen points on a playoff team. Kenneth Faried is another example. The Denver Nuggets power forward is a little lighter but has still made a name for himself in the league. Point is, you don't need to be six foot ten or eleven to be a successful NBA power forward.
An undrafted free agent has a pretty big advantage over say a second round draft pick. McCrea was able to choose where he felt he'd fit the best, and that place was Dallas. The Mavericks have an aging roster (half of the team is over 30). Their power forward situation is pretty open after starter Dirk Nowitzki, who is still going strong at age 36. The only other power forward on the roster last year was Brandan Wright, a former first round pick of the Bobcats. Wright averaged over eighteen minutes per game last year and almost ten points. His contract expires next year, so he'll likely stick around.
That means that McCrea will have to battle to find his role on the roster, if he makes it. Dallas currently has a couple of free agents but are also targeting many, including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, in free agency. DeJuan Blair and Bernard James' contracts are up, and with them both being centers the Mavericks could use some more height.
Not a lot is out there about the other players on the Mavericks' Summer League team. The one player that is known is CJ Fair. Fair is also six foot eight but plays a more slasher-style game who hangs out more on the perimeter than inside. Depending on who else joins the team will impact McCrea's chances to prove himself, but he's in a pretty good position as it stands now.
The Mavericks do have their own NBA Development League team, and could certainly send McCrea there to improve his game. The Texas Legends were under .500 last year and didn't make the playoffs, so it's not like there was a bunch of NBA talent waiting in the wings. McCrea could also find a team overseas to play for for a year or so and then come back and try again at making a roster.
If there's one thing about Javon McCrea it's his toughness. NBA teams love that and covet that in a player. McCrea won't wow you with his shooting but he has a nose for the basketball and can get rebounds that seemingly no one else can. His defensive statistics are fantastic and he knows how to work in the paint. Playing against guys like him in the Summer League will definitely help him out and will give us a better idea of where he stands as a potential NBA player. It's no doubt that he's talented enough to make an NBA roster.