Philadelphia 76ers: Patrick McCaw is the defender Philly needs

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

After months of suffering with an ineffective bench, Brett Brown’s dream defensive stopper may have fallen into the Philadelphia 76ers’ lap in Patrick McCaw.

Has anyone had a weirder start to the 2018-19 NBA season than Patrick McCaw?

After earning a pair of championship rings in each of his first two seasons in the league, McCaw’s relationship with the Golden State Warriors, the team that purchased his draft rights from the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2016 NBA Draft, quickly soured over a particularly testy restricted free agency period. Instead of signing a two-year $5.2 million offer from his home club, McCaw instead opted to remain off the court for the final quarter of 2018, hoping to find a new home with more playing time and a better chance for a future payday.

This decision lead to a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the big, big price of $6 million.

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However, this landing spot ultimately proved short-lived, as his former championship rivals decided to waive the 23-year-old guard/forward after only three games on the club, in favor of former first-round pick Cameron Payne.

And just like that, McCaw went from a useful cog in Steve Kerr‘s Warriors machine, to an unrestricted free agent should he pass through waivers. But if Elton Brand is smart, he won’t let that happen.

No, given his age, versatility, and playoff experience, McCaw will undoubtedly be a hot commodity on the open market now that he’s unrestricted, but in all likelihood that won’t happen. Smart teams will see the value McCaw can bring to the table, and will all but certainly put in a waiver claim to secure his rights on a cost-controlled deal, and one of those teams should be the Philadelphia 76ers.

Standing 6-foot-7, with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, McCaw is one of the better young backcourt defenders in the entire NBA, dating all the way back to his time at UNLV when he was named the 2016 Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year. With the size of a guard, but the length of a forward, McCaw is the kind of player that teams are always trying to replace, but are seldom able to, as his skill set is just too valuable in the modern NBA.

Much like Pascal Siakam, whom The Ringers‘ J. Kyle Mann called a ‘Unicorn Killer‘, McCaw earns minutes not because of his scoring prowess, as the former Rebel is among the least effective scorers in the NBA, but because of his ability to neutralize the dynamic, do-it-all scorers that popular all of the NBA’s best backcourts.

These players have been the bane of the Philadelphia 76ers existence.

Since trading Robert Covington, the team’s best wing defender to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the now-infamous Jimmy Butler trade, it’s become almost commonplace to watch guards the league over put up 30-plus points on the guard tandem of J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons. McCaw could be the magic pill to fix this pesky issue.

You see, McCaw is a kind of bizarro version of the team’s current crop of reserve wingers, as he looks the part of a modern NBA two-guard, but his ceiling appears much lower, that is, unless he can fix his current 29.5 3-point shooting percentage. However, unlike the likes of Redick, T.J. McConnell, Landry Shamet, and Furkan Korkmaz, McCaw is a professional defender, and could more than make up for his offensive inefficiencies with a much-needed jolt of energy on the defensive end of the court.

A splash brother he is not, but McCaw could very well slot in and join the ‘Headband Brothers’ from day one.

I mean, look at this article’s thumbnail for goodness sake, McCaw can rock a headband with the best of them, and at 23, he looks strikingly similar to a young Jimmy Butler, the player who could conceivably take him under his wing moving forward. With a similar playing style, a similar niche begining to his career, and even a similar draft position, McCaw and Butler could become fast friends, and help to secure each other an extended stay in the City of Brotherly Love.

But we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.

While McCaw may be a great defender and could fortify Brett Brown‘s defenses from day one, Patrick would be a perfect addition to the 76ers not because of what he is, but because of what he isn’t; ball dominant.

I know, this sounds crazy, as the 76ers are pretty desperate for secondary playmakers and inside scorers at the moment, as only three players on the roster, Embiid, Butler, and Simmons average more than four shots in the paint a night, but it’s true. With Simmons, Embiid, Butler, and Redick all averaging over 11 shots a game, there just aren’t enough shots available to add in another ball hog and keep everyone happy, a task that’s becoming harder and harder with each passing week.

While McCaw can score the rock and have a big game on occasion, as he’s scored in double-digits nine times as a pro, including once against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, his game is much predicated on defensive effort. If paired with players like Redick, McConnell, Butler, and Wilson Chandler, either at shooting guard or small forward, McCaw could help to shore up any defensive ineffectiveness while staying out-of-the-way on offense.

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I don’t know about you, but that seems like pretty significant value for the low, low price of about $3 million a year over the next two seasons. So Elton Brand, if you are serious about adding a perimeter defensive stopper, as Brett Brown has publicly requested, Patrick McCaw very well could be the man for the job, and he won’t cost anything to acquire; talk about value.