McDonald is another example of the huge crop of American players that couldnt make it to the NBA initially. Players like McDonald come to Europe searching for a paycheck and the opportunity to gain experience, maturity and, hopefully eventually get another shot at the top basketball league.
Coming out of the University of South Florida, where he showed terrific progress during his four-year stint, McDonald was named to the Third Team All-Conference USA as a senior, after averaging 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds. Following his senior year he dominated the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, averaging 19.3 points (2nd in tourney) and 11.7 rebounds (3rd in tourney) while shooting 56.8% from the field.
His door to Europe was, like for many others, the French League, a friendly place for American rookies in Europe that, at the same time, enjoys nice level and exposure. After one year in Chalon, he moved to the strongest domestic competition in Europe, the ACB League.
He spent one season in Gran Canaria, a well-known team for its excellent scouting (the last example, Joel Freeland
), and played last season in Estudiantes, one of the historic powerhouses in Spain, although not as much this campaign. He averaged 17.4 points and 5.6 rebounds there. Last summer he joined the Boston Celtics summer league squad, but left midway through after barely seeing the floor and being offered a very nice amount of money from Estudiantes to sign immediately.Strengths:
A very nice offensive player, Will McDonald
certainly has resources to score around the basket. Featuring nice size (he measured 6-9 ½ without shoes at the Chicago pre-draft camp) and terrific length (7-3 ½), he has the size and frame to play the center position in the NBA. Hes a decently athletic and very strong player who knows how to use his body in the paint. Besides, he moves really well without the ball, finding spaces and passing lines.
The first sample, the pick and roll play. McDonald perfectly rolls after setting the pick, looking for the proximities of the rim. He can explode going up for the dunk, look for a layup with both hands, or settle for a jumper in the mid range area. Indeed, hes a fairly reliable static shooter out to 15 feet.
This season, McDonald enjoyed the partnership of Sergio Rodríguez, a terrific player in the pick and roll, and also benefited from an offensive system that actively looked for these situations. The result was fantastic production in terms of points for McDonald, to the tune of over 17 per game, good for 4th in the Spanish ACB league ahead of Luis Scola
Still, he can also look for his points in the low post. He doesnt enjoy fancy moves, but he uses his body to gain position and delivers effective reverse and spin moves, using the glass if he has the chance.
An excellent offensive rebounder, McDonald is really active attacking the offensive glass, using his strength and showing aggressiveness, nice mobility and a nose to come up with the ball.Weaknesses:
McDonald is first and foremost not terribly athletic. He has almost pure paint skills, which he might suffer to translate against bigger competition, although his strength makes up for it up to a certain degree. He could certainly improve his shooting and expand his post game with better footwork and more moves.
He looks like a below average passer, although its mostly a matter of not trying. McDonald is first a scorer; whenever he receives the ball he looks for the basket. Its probably not a matter of not understanding the game, but of instincts playing it.
Not a great defender, McDonald lacks some intimidation and his lateral quickness is average for a big man. He suffers against bigger players, but also when hes taken to the perimeter. Still his body should allow him to get the job done near the basket on a regular basis. Despite his nice effort on the offensive end, hes just an average defensive rebounder. He should work harder boxing out his rivals.
Off the court issues prevented McDonald from ever really getting a shot at the NBA initially. He was charged with a misdemeanor his senior year of college on domestic battery charges.Why sign him?
For any team needing a complimentary big guy to get some scoring inside off the bench, McDonald might be a nice option. Hes probably ready to step onto a NBA court given his strength, useful skill set, and experience in high international competition. Hes still relatively young at 26, and might become a solid player for years to come. The problem is that another excellent season in Spain like he just had will push him dangerously close to becoming a 7-figure player in Europe, which will be incredibly hard to leave on the table for a minimum contract in the NBA. If a team likes him, they will have to pay him and its tough to see him garnering anywhere near the type of money he will command in Europe. McDonald has reportedly resigned with Estudiantes for another season.