Busting Brackets

Duke Basketball: Why Jared McCain should be a lottery pick in 2024 NBA Draft

NC State v Duke
NC State v Duke / Lance King/GettyImages

Freshman guard and Tiktok sensation Jared McCain has announced he is declaring for the NBA Draft, per his social media, after an impressive one-and-done season at Duke. The Blue Devils came up short in the NCAA Tournament after an Elite 8 loss against NC State. McCain's draft projection is currently one of the more interesting questions and developments as NBA Draft season nears.

Usually, highly recruited high school prospects who go to Duke and have the type of year McCain had, especially in the moments he rose to the occasion, would be locks for the lottery. McCain right now is right on the cusp of that, and it's simply odd. ESPN, CBS Sports, and NBA Draft Network all have Jared McCain being selected just outside of the lottery in the 17-20 range, behind teammate Kyle Filipowski and other freshman Cody Williams, Isaiah Collier, and Ja'Kobe Walter. Yet McCain had just as good, if not better, stats and shooting splits then all three. 

The oddest thing about this is that all season, when Duke was at its peak and playing its best basketball, Jared McCain was the catalyst for that success. They were more dynamic, efficient, and fearful when McCain was on and playing like his normal, confident self.

As a true freshman, McCain ended the season averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.9 assists, shooting 49.3% from the field and a staggering 41.4% from behind the arc, on nearly six attempts per game. McCain was Duke's leading scorer in the NCAA tournament on their path to the Elite 8. McCain averaged 21.0 points during March Madness, including a 32-point performance against NC State and a 30-point performance against James Madison. 

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A 6-foot-3, smooth combo-guard who can handle the ball, doesn't turn over the basketball, can shoot the three at an extremely efficient and high clip, and is still not a lottery pick in many mocks? It seems as if advanced stats are hurting McCain's stock. Defensive analytics would show McCain as more of an liability than a beneficiary, but he still managed to average over a steal per game. But anyone who watched Duke basketball realizes that the Blue Devils were much more dynamic with McCain than without him, and now he will have to show NBA Scouts why sometimes advanced analytics don't show the entire story.