After a promising freshman season, Patrick McCaw took the next step in his development as a sophomore, earning Second Team All-Mountain West Conference honors, as well as being named to the All-Defensive Team.
His UNLV team was mired in dysfunction, though, highlighted by the head coach that recruited him, Dave Rice, being fired mid-season. Considering his team didn't settle on a coach for the upcoming season until mid-April, it wasn't much of a surprise to see McCaw elect to leave the program, along with virtually everyone else on the roster after a disappointing 18-15 season (8-10 in the MWC).
McCaw has good physical attributes for a NBA shooting guard, standing over 6'5 without shoes with a long 6'10 wingspan. He's a very smooth athlete who covers ground well and will surprise you at times with both his quickness and explosiveness, even if he's still figuring out how to utilize it consistently in half-court settings. Part of that is due to his rail-thin frame, which is still in a very early stage of development and will likely take at least a few years to fully mature.
McCaw shows glimpses of potential in almost every facet of the game, be it as a shooter, passer, distributor, or transition threat, even if he's very raw still and far from putting it all together into a consistent product at this point in time.
McCaw showed the ability to play both on and off the ball at UNLV, averaging a solid 4.2 assists per-40 minutes, demonstrating nice court vision and unselfishness in the process. He is tall enough to see over the top of the defense and use both sides of the court, be it in drive and dish situations, pushing the ball ahead in transition and showing nice timing delivering lobs.
McCaw is better in the open floor right now than he is against a set defense, as his quick first step and ability to operate in different gears gives the ability to create offense nicely taking the ball off the defensive glass. He needs to tighten his handle to unlock his full potential as a shot-creator in the half-court, though, as he lacks much in the way of advanced ball-handling skills and doesn't have the strength needed to take hits in the paint and finish around the basket.
As McCaw's body fills out and his athleticism continues to progress, he should be able to develop into a combo guard role as he'll occasionally demonstrate making plays off the bounce. His fundamentals and overall understanding of the game need a lot of work, though, as his shot-selection can be very poor at times and he can get very wild with his decision making skills. He rarely gets all the way to the basket in the half-court and tends to shy away from contact at times when he does, which makes it difficult for him to be a consistent threat in isolation and pick and roll situations.
A major key will be McCaw's progression as an outside shooter. He showed real potential in this area, making 118/324 (36%) of his 3-point attempts in his two years in college, as well as 75% of his free throws, with over half of his field goal attempts coming from beyond the arc. He's particularly effective right now with his feet set, especially when he can hop into his shot off an extra pass.
McCaw still has a lot of room to improve in this area, though, as he's still very much on the streaky side at this point of his development. His mechanics are very inconsistent, as he doesn't shoot the ball the same way every time, tending to get off-balance with his footwork, elevating variably, and releasing it from different points of his jump. He shows a long and deliberate stroke when he doesn't catch the ball on the hop, dipping the ball well into his knees, which really slows down his release. This is particularly noticeable when shooting off the dribble, as it simply takes him too long to transition into a pull-up jumper, which really hampers his ability to create his own shot.
One place where McCaw could develop into quite a weapon is on the defensive end of the floor, where he already shows significant potential. His size, length, quick feet and excellent anticipation skills allowed him to defend either guard position at the college level, and as his frame progresses, he should be able to check small forwards as well. When fully locked in, McCaw gets in a deep stance, slithers around screens and can put outstanding pressure on the ball. At 2.6 steals per-40, he was an absolute menace getting in the passing lanes for UNLV, and can also contest shots impressively on the perimeter using his quickness and length.
Unfortunately McCaw was far from consistent in this area as well. His effort level tends to waver here at times, as he is prone to falling asleep in his stance and lose his focus off the ball. He has a bad habit of gambling in passing lanes and swiping at the ball unnecessarily instead of being solid and simply keeping his man in front. He hasn't developed a mentality of being the lockdown defender his potential suggests at this stage of his career, looking somewhat wild on this end of the floor as well.
Part of this has to do with the development of his frame, which as mentioned is still in a very early stage. He has very thin legs and not much of a chest, which allowed older players to overpower him constantly and made it difficult for him to be as physical as he needed to be on both ends of the floor.
NBA teams will also be looking at the situation he was in at UNLV, which was far from ideal from a development standpoint. The Runnin' Rebels didn't have any shortage of talent on their roster the past few years, but also lacked much in the way of structure (particularly offensively) and underachieved badly in turn.
McCaw was very inconsistent from game to game, and certainly doesn't look ready to step into a major role anytime soon at the NBA level. But at the same time, the growth he's shown in the last two years has been very impressive considering where he started (completely off the map as a high school recruit), and he shows many of the characteristics teams look for in a shooting guard position, with his size, length, athleticism, shooting ability, passing and defensive potential. Depending on how his workouts go, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team take a gamble on McCaw in the first round, as he has significantly more potential than you typically expect to find at that slot in the draft. The team who picks him will need to be very patient with his development, though, as it will likely be a few years until he's ready to contribute on a team looking to win games.