Two years ago, Yogi Ferrell was a long shot to make the Nets, an undersized guard who went undrafted.
Today, he’s got a multi-year deal with the Kings after getting his shot in Brooklyn, and later, Dallas.
This year’s reach is Jordan McLaughlin, who, like Ferrell, is a (slightly) undersized Nets training camp invitee and who, like Ferrell, is a charismatic point guard who plays with purpose.
Can he make it like Ferrell? Nets fans may not know much about McLaughlin, but again, like Ferrell, he was a four-year starter at a big name college — USC — who finished just out of the top-60. The similarities end there. Ferrell was a scoring PG; McLaughlin a playmaker. The numbers speak for themselves.
Ferrell greatly improved his scoring from 7.1 to over 17 points per game over the course of his career at Indiana, McLaughlin maintained a steady 12-13 points per game scoring average (14.5-to-16.6 per-40 minutes) over his career, topping out at 13.4 as a sophomore.
The Pasadena, California native made his leaps and bounds as a playmaker, not a scorer. In the last four years, he went from 4.5 assists per game as a freshman in 2014-15, to 4.7, 5.5 and 7.8 over the remainder of his college career. That last number placed him third in assists in the NCAA last season.
McLaughlin also became a more efficient floor general while at USC. After shooting a career-high 11.5 field goal attempts per game as a freshman, the 2017-18 All Pac-12 First Teamer never averaged more than 10 shots per-contest for the remainder of his run, finishing at 9.8 as a junior and senior.
In turn, his field goal percentage jumped from a pedestrian 35.2% his freshman year to 47.1% in his second season, finishing out at a very respectable 45% as a senior.
McLaughlin’s trajectory from beyond the arc was similar, opening at 27.2%, and one year later finding himself at 42.4%, sixth in the Pac-12. Over his final two seasons, he hovered around 40%, hitting nearly 1.5 three’s per game.
He’s also been noted for his defense, not one of Ferrell’s strengths. Although steals are an imperfect measure, McLaughlin did average 1.7 thefts per game at USC, including a personal-best 2.0 as a senior. The Nets liked him enough to invite him to play in the summer league and offer him a spot in training camp.
In the Vegas summer league, McLaughlin played well enough, averaging 7.0 points and 4.2 assists per game in five showings, including one start.
The scouting report is that McLaughlin’s playmaking makes him a dime-droppin’ delight, providing opportunities for others off the pick-and-roll and in transition, two Net staples. And he knows when to shoot. You can see that beginning at 1:20 when highlights show off his scoring touch, including some simple open three’s and finishes in transition, again two Net staples.
And he works hard. After leaving Las Vegas, McLaughlin headed home to L.A. and the Drew League. Twice, he dropped 25 points in a game. In one playoff game against, among others, Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson, he dominated with 25 points and five assists, leading an upset that shocked Drew aficionados. Here’s the highlights from that game including some of McLaughlin’s six three’s.
Pro scouts liked what he could do from his time in high school. Here’s a reminder of the reputation McLaughlin built in So-Cal — also the home of Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe — while at Etiwanda High School.
And speaking of Los Angeles, the Staples Center also hosted one of McLaughlin’s best college games as a senior, where he torched Oklahoma University for 20 points and nine assists at Staples Center this past December.
McLaughlin and Theo Pinson stand out among this year’s undrafted prospects because of experience, poise and the program’s in which they come from. Regarding two-way deals, no decision yet from the Nets and they don’t have to make one until October.
Both are also selfless players who will arrive in Brooklyn already at 22, with big time and big game experience whereas young prospects have only one or neither. (Mitch Creek, the 26-year-old Australian guard, has similar experience, having played in the highly competitive NBL Down Under ... and the 2016 Olympics.)
Finding gems among the unselected —the so-called “third round” of the draft— is not easy or by any means a given. But sifting through the leftovers can be a valuable exercise for the team and the players. Ask Yogi Ferrell.