Jared McCain

Size questions don't bother ‘joyful' Sixers pick Jared McCain 

McCain is a fantastic shooter who's used to hearing size-related concerns.

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Jared McCain knows everyone won’t always be smiling and expecting the best during his time as a Sixer. 

“At Duke, it’s a big platform in college,” McCain said in a virtual press conference shortly after learning he was headed to Philadelphia as the 2024 NBA draft’s 16th pick. “Obviously that comes with a lot of hate and a lot of scrutiny wherever you go, but I think that’s prepared me for where I’m at, especially with Philly. So I think I’m ready for it.”

In the scrutiny department, McCain is familiar with questions about his size. 

He’s 6-foot-2 without shoes, has a 6-3.5 wingspan and weighs 203 pounds. He’s a stellar shooter — quick release, sound mechanics, great results — but McCain won’t be nailing jumpers over many players in the NBA. 

“Starting with high school, I’ve always been smaller or just average-sized,” McCain said. “Being 6-3 and labeled as small, it’s always funny when I hear that. … I’m just excited to continue to work on that and find ways to impact winning without being 6-9.” 

McCain’s shot is the item to circle — and perhaps underline a few times — on any opponent's scouting report. He made 87 of 210 three-pointers (41.4 percent) and 77 of 87 free throws (88.5 percent) in college. However, he doesn’t want to only be worthy of minutes in the NBA if he’s hot from long range.

Along with being diligent defensively, McCain aims to chip in on the glass. His rebounding numbers were strong for a guard at Duke — 5.0 boards per contest, including a stretch when he recorded double-digit rebounds in four out of five games. 

“I definitely take pride in rebounding,” he said. “It’s something I focused on, especially toward the end of the year — just something that I feel is another way to impact winning. A lot of our wins and losses were (decided by) the rebounding battle. 

“So wherever I go, I try to do something else that’s going to impact winning other than scoring, because your shot’s not going to be on every night. If I can grab as many boards as possible, I think that helps.”

McCain happens to be just about the same size as star Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey. 

The notion that Maxey-McCain lineups would be relatively short is a “valid concern,” Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said. He wasn’t fixated on height, though. Morey called McCain “pretty special” for a player drafted in the middle of the first round. 

“Obviously your backcourt, in a perfect world, you’d have taller,” Morey said. “But I think you have to compensate with strength. He’s got a strong frame — very strong. Good rebounder. We think he’ll be a solid defender in the league over time. … He was (initially) being targeted at Duke and as the season went on, he became someone that was actually one of their better defenders. 

“He’s got the attitude that Coach (Nick) Nurse likes to bring, which is just get a little bit better every day. … We’ve had some good luck taking the kids with a real base of potential and a strong work ethic. We were really happy. I’m excited for Philadelphia to get to know him.”

Nurse’s history illustrates that height alone doesn’t need to severely limit players and shrink potential lineup combinations. Sturdy, savvy 6-foot guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet featured for his 2018-19 championship-winning Raptors team. Nurse joked last year that the 38-year-old Lowry is essentially a power forward on defense. 

McCain, who's 18 years Lowry's junior, is part of Maxey's generation.

He’s similarly inclined to smile through anything in front of him. 

“I do the social media, I do all the nail painting, all that stuff, but basketball is obviously my main focus,” McCain said. “This has been my dream since I was literally 4, 5 years old, so I do whatever I can just to win and bring a positive attitude.

“And just have fun, man. I’m just joyful with life and I try to bring that everywhere I go.”

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