Mac McClung believes there is enough talent for NBA expansion

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
NBA Slam Dunk champion Mac McClung talked to The Sporting Tribune about the NBA's inevitable expansion.

LOS ANGELES — Mac McClung is no stranger to the spotlight. Ever since he was 16 years old, McClung has been an internet sensation posting videos of his insane bounce and electric in game dunks that blew up consistently on social media. Despite being a 6-2 Combo Guard and a just a 3-star recruit, McClung continued to be “must see TV” in college at Georgetown and Texas Tech, which led to his joining of the South Bay Lakers the following season.

Fast forward 3 years later, McClung has not only put together some impressive G-League seasons for the South Bay Lakers and Delaware Blue Coats, but he also put together one of the most memorable Slam Dunk Contest performances in recent memory in February of this year. Despite McClung’s electric style of play and efficiency when given the opportunity at the NBA level, the 76ers have been hesitant about providing McClung NBA rotational minutes. This week McClung joined “The Arash Markazi Show” presented by The Sporting Tribune to discuss his training routine, the reactions to his show stopping performance in the Slam Dunk Contest, and the NBA’s inevitable expansion to Las Vegas and Seattle.

When asked about NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s reluctance to expand soon due to not enough talent, McClung said

“There are a lot of great players, even on my Delaware Blue Coats team, guys like Braxton Key and Patrick McCaw could be role players or starters on some NBA teams…a lot of it is opportunity, there is so much talent”

McClung is absolutely right, and those opportunities for G-Leaguer’s that he’s talking about have come to fruition for many current successful NBA players such as Jordan Poole, Pascal Siakam, Khris Middleton, Danny Green, Rudy Gobert, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent. Siakam and Middleton have both been the second or third best player on an NBA Title team, Gobert has been named DPOY multiple times, and Poole, Green, Martin, Strus, and Vincent have all played pivotal roles in the NBA playoffs in their careers. Even in 2021, when many players had entered COVID Protocols, numerous G-Leaguers like Omer Yurtseven, Brandon Williams, and Trendon Watford put up numbers as lead options for NBA teams when they got the opportunity.

McClung is another one of those guys that at some point will be given a substantial opportunity in the NBA and make the most of it. He already showed off his athleticism in a show-stopping Dunk Contest Performance that NBA superstar LeBron James called “the best performance ever in a dunk contest”. McClung added that even in the brief time he spent with LeBron, he learned so much,

“I’m not gonna sit here and act like I’m close with LeBron, but I appreciate those words he said about me, I was with him briefly for a couple of months and I remember him very invested in film sessions and that made me realize I need to invest more off the court with film…he was very inspirational.”

McClung really took that to heart and he has refined his game to a whole new level since joining the NBA. He always had some secondary playmaking and shot creation without getting to the basket and blowing by defenders (which he made a name for himself on in high school and college), but he is a much more complete basketball player now. His playmaking skills have improved drastically, as McClung now routinely draws multiple defenders on his way to the rim before passing it to the open man and is solid in the pick-and-roll game as well. McClung may never be an elite 3PT shooter, but he’s certainly improved that facet of his game as well as he averaged 18.9 points and 5.3 assists per game with a 3PT% of over 34% last season for the Blue Coats. When asked about how he improved his overall game, McClung said

“The biggest thing I’ve changed in my training is everything is live, my two trainers put me in real in-game situations with long arms and cones, trying to block my shot, and if the shot isn’t there, kick it across to the corner because this guy helped, just putting myself in game-like situations has helped”

Furthermore, McClung has consistently gotten better every year, and sometime soon he will be given an opportunity to be a rotational player in the NBA, not just a two-way player spending most of his time in the G-League. Perhaps McClung will be one of the players to benefit from the inevitable league expansion that should happen within the next few years despite commissioner Silver’s past reluctance. Nonetheless, McClung has already had an excellent career his story shows just how many fantastic players are in the G-League patiently waiting for their shot.