Defense is another issue altogether. The term is also known as ‘tweener. On offense, he can get away with either forward position for his perimeter shooting abilities alone. The fact that he’s able to finish against NBA length at a solid rate establishes him as a great forward at either position. Defensively, he has issues. He’s too slow laterally to handle guard-like wings such as Andre Iguodala or Harrison Barnes. He’s not strong enough to handle stronger power forwards like Blake Griffin or Zach Randolph. Dirk Nowitzki is an elite shooter as well, but he has the height and length of a center to compensate. Even then, he still needs help against athletic power forwards. He is a solid rebounder and can end defensive positions, but he’ll be spacing a lot of power forwards, daring them to shoot from the perimeter.
Defensive issues are just one of the reasons he isn’t a great Laker fit. He has great talent as a scorer, but isn’t dynamic off-the-dribble enough to warrant being a top option at the NBA level. Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, and even Aaron Gordon have shown some shake and quickness taking defenders to the rim. That’s not McDermott’s game. He’s a finisher, not a playmaker. The Lakers need both.
While he is a senior, there is still upside for him. A player can always add skill. Some, like myself, are especially skeptical. He needs the space to get the shot off, but doesn’t have great ball-handling, quickness, or length to do so. What does that make McDermott? The worst case scenario is Adam Morrison. They had similar shot creating abilities from the perimeter under duress. But, a better player comparison is actually Wally Szczerbiak. Szczerbiak out of the draft tried to add quickness by losing weight and playing the shooting guard spot. It didn’t work well. He became a 3rd option on offense for Minnesota, and those years were his best ones. After becoming a spot up shooter at the NBA level, he vanished. McDermott plays much better off-the-ball and is a better finisher than Szczerbiak, but it doesn’t speak well of being an elite offensive option.
McDermott is going to be a great pick for another team. If this was a championship Laker team under the triangle offense, he would be a steal pick. A team with that kind of offensive structure needs the movement and perimeter shooting ability to make the system work well. Unfortunately, the Lakers aren’t a championship team. There is no offensive system. There’s not even a coach. They aren’t the best fit for McDermott. McDermott isn’t a great fit for the Lakers.