Raptors Profiles: Is Patrick McCaw our next secret defensive weapon?

Photo Credit: Getty Images, TSN

Patrick McCaw has never really been in the spotlight. While only playing five games with the Toronto Raptors this season, fans have yet to see the potential defensive impact McCaw can bring to the team. Dealing with a recurring knee injury, McCaw has only played a total of 42 games with the Raptors since joining the team back in 2019 and hasn’t been able to showcase his talent as a long wing defender. McCaw is used to being counted out from his high school days, but his hard work and dedication have contributed to his early success, already securing three championships at the young age of 25. The real question for Raptors fans is once he’s healthy and back in action, can Patrick McCaw be a reliable piece coming off the bench?

From late second round pick to three-time champion, the journey and experience of McCaw could make him a valuable sleeper pickup and an important asset in the Raptors’ rotation with some continued improvement.

McCaw hails from St. Louis, Missouri, where he began his basketball journey. From his early days in high school, he wasn’t widely known and was only considered a three-star recruit. He attended Montrose Christian School in his senior year, a school with notable alumni Kevin Durant and Terrence Ross. Despite winning the National Christian School Athletic Association Division 1 title, he was only ranked 38th best among shooting guards in his class and only averaged 13 points per game.

College scouts recognized McCaw for his long frame and defensive ability, helping him receive some college offers. He ultimately committed to UNLV. After gaining more confidence in his sophomore season, he showed his defensive improvement as he averaged 2.5 steals per game and earned recognition for All-Defensive team. NBA scouts saw McCaw with potential to be a solid defender with his 6’7 frame and 6’8 wingspan. After impressing teams with his workouts, McCaw was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 38th overall pick and later traded to the Golden State Warriors.

McCaw bounced back and forth between the G-League and NBA until he was able to secure a bench role with an already stacked Warriors team. He got his big moment when he stepped up in place of the injured Kevin Durant in his first career start in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. He was able to show impressive defensive play in his second game, as he finished with 1 block and 3 steals. With his expanded role, McCaw proved to be a valuable contributor to the Warriors 2017 championship run. He had a setback injury in 2018 against the Sacramento Kings where he was stretchered off the court after sustaining a lumbar spine bruise from Vince Carter. McCaw came back from his injury in the Western Conference Finals and went on to win the NBA Championship once again, going back-to-back with the Warriors.

McCaw was unable to agree to a deal with Golden State and signed with the Raptors midway through the 2019 season. He played 26 games in a limited role off the bench and helped the Raptors through their historic playoff run. McCaw had to step away for five games during the Eastern Conference Finals to mourn the sudden passing of his older brother Jeffrey. Battling through the pain of his recent loss, McCaw joined the Raptors for the 2019 Finals against his former team. Although he had very little minutes in the series, only scoring a total of 3 points and 2 assists, he provided a spark when tasked to guard Warriors guards’ Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. With the Raptors securing the championship in historic fashion, McCaw became just the seventh player to win three consecutive championships in their first three years in the league.

McCaw’s story is an unlikely one, and he’s a player who’s never had much recognition, but he has the potential to bring defensive talent (and perhaps some good luck) to the Raptors. His current injury issues have him out of the rotation for the foreseeable future, however the combo guard has the skill and work ethic to bounce back as a key role player. Under the watch of Nick Nurse, McCaw may even be able to improve his offensive abilities and elevate his game as a two-way threat.

Dedication through adversity is what creates great caliber players, something that the Raptors as a team embody. The Raptors are known to have a good sense for players who slip under the radar and don’t have the traditional spotlight on them as they come into the league. Hopefully we get the chance to see McCaw add to his already impressive resume and develop a promising NBA career once fully recovered.

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