Scouting Report & Film Review: Miles McBride

Miles McBride should be a first round lock given his elite defense and excellent shooting.

Strengths: Interior scoring, defense, shooting off the catch

Weaknesses: Playmaking, shooting off the dribble, shot selection 

Consensus Expected Draft Range: Late first round – early second round

Where I'd Draft Him: Mid to late first round

Shades Of: Donte DiVincenzo, Marcus Smart, Bruce Brown Jr with a jumper

Best Team Fits: Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies

Miles McBride is the most recent prospect in the long lineage of elite defensive point guards from West Virginia. Coming into the season, McBride had some intrigue as a prospect, but he wasn't considered a surefire draftable point guard. That sentiment quickly changed.

All season, McBride proved to be one of the best on-ball defenders in the country. His tenacious approach, constant pursuit, and positional versatility felt like déjà vu. What quickly set McBride apart from his predecessors, though, was his impressive offensive arsenal. West Virginia's offense got off to a slow start, but after they moved away from a two-big system (due to a transfer), they fully handed the offensive reigns to McBride, and he did not disappoint.

McBride quickly exploded as a dynamic on-ball scorer who took great care of the ball. He isn't the flashiest playmaker, but he rarely turns the ball over. McBride also proved he could excel in an off-ball role. While McBride's offensive explosion was a pleasant surprise, he still projects to be a defense-first guard.

Defense

Stop me if you've heard this before, but West Virginia had a point guard who was an elite on-ball defender and an absolute nightmare for opponents to deal with. McBride carried on the tradition with his physical, tenacious on-ball defense. He is a good athlete with exceptional footwork and instincts. McBride has an excellent sense of the ball-handler's intentions and frequently shuts down drives. McBride is also an active and willing switcher. His physical style of play will allow him to switch on the perimeter despite not having the most promising measurables.

McBride can be a high-level point-of-attack defender right away. Nothing about his defense is fluky or system reliant. McBride will make life much easier for his teammates on the defensive end by being an elite point-of-attack defender. He can stick with quicker point guards, get under the skin of bigger initiators, and effortlessly switch when teammates get hung up on screens.

Here, McBride puts on a master class of on-ball defense. McBride singlehandedly shuts down an entire offensive possession. His feet are active but not jumpy. His low defensive stance stems from him bending at the knees, not the hips, and having a broad, stable base. When the ball-handler attacks his top foot, McBride quickly flips his hips and slides his feet to contain. Even when he gets drawn into biting on the fake, McBride stays vertical to ensure he doesn't foul.

Again, McBride shows off his exquisite perimeter footwork by making a potential first-round pick look like a JV point guard. McBride moves his feet with precision and never loses his balance. The frequency and duration that he stays in that low, defensive stance hurts my knees just watching. To cap it all off, McBride rips the ball away like he's taking back his favorite toy from his little brother.

McBride's tremendous defensive instincts and effort aren't limited to only his on-ball defense. McBride has excellent play recognition and rarely has lapses cycling from on-ball to off-ball defense. Here, McBride quickly extinguishes any hope of a transition drive and forces the ball-handler to frantically get rid of the ball. McBride's ball-hawking instincts lead him to lunge for the pass and momentarily give a sliver of a window for a back cut. Many players would see their job as complete after forcing the pass, but McBride immediately recognizes his error. Due to his balance, footwork, and athleticism, McBride instantly recovers to deny the pass back.

As an off-ball defender, McBride was given a long leash. He was allowed to roam and play a free-safety role, which had its ups and downs. Occasionally, McBride would get caught out of position and get burned because he was roaming too much. Despite the handful of errors, I came away highly impressed with McBride's off-ball defense.

There was a reason McBride averaged nearly two steals per game (same as Davion Mitchell and Jalen Suggs), and it wasn't purely due to the quick hands we saw earlier. McBride was a regular disruptor of passing lanes because of his preternatural instincts. He knew where the ball was going two passes in advance. He did an excellent job of reading the ball-handler and turning a defensive possession into a pick-six. Did you know he played football?

Here, McBride initially does a nice job of playing gap defense and denying a drive as the opposition runs off a screen. Georgetown promptly reverses the ball and attacks the closeout, which forces the West Virginian big man to leave his man and rotate. This offensive attack should leave Georgetown's center open in the lane, but McBride started his rotation while the ball-handler attacked the closeout. McBride slides in to steal the dump-off pass and rewards his teammate on the other end with a transition lob.

Here, McBride shows his superb off-ball instincts and his precise understanding of his team's defensive schemes. McBride ushers his man along the baseline as he clears out for his team to run the pick-and-roll. McBride lingers in the lane in case the screener slips or rolls hard. Once the ball-handler denies the screen, McBride knows that his teammates will double and that the ball-handler's only release valve is the screener due to the positioning of the other three Sooners. The second the ball-handler plants his right foot to pivot back, McBride breaks to the screener. The ball-handler never sees him coming, and McBride takes it the other way.

McBride seamlessly slides between assignments and is always a threat in the passing lanes. He has a keen sense of when to switch, where the ball is going, and how best to disrupt the opposition. When teammates get out of position, McBride quickly sees it and recovers for them. While McBride won't be able to get away with as much of his off-ball gambling in the NBA, it would be shocking if he wasn't an excellent defender, regardless of the system he plays in.

Scoring

The most surprising aspect of McBride's season was how prolific a scorer he became. McBride quickly turned defense into offense but also effectively ran the pick-and-roll, knocked down pull-up jumpers, dominated post-ups, and became a lethal off-ball shooter. He likely won't be asked to carry as much of an offensive load in the NBA, but if he is, he's proven he can handle it.

Overall, McBride scored 0.964 points per possession (PPP), which ranked in the 74th percentile, per Synergy. The most surprising aspect of McBride's scoring was how prolific he was as an off-ball shooter. He scored 1.338 PPP when shooting off the catch (92nd percentile), 1.091 PPP when spotting up (82nd percentile), and 1.5 PPP on hand-offs (99th percentile). McBride likely won't play a lead guard role in the NBA, so him proving that he can be tremendously successful off-ball on high volume is highly encouraging for his future impact.

McBride became much less effective as an off-the-dribble shooter as he scored 0.783 PPP (50th percentile). It's not an alarming number, but not one you'd initially expect when watching him play. The main reasons for McBride's underwhelming off-the-dribble numbers are mainly due to his shot selection, lack of space creation, and pull-up jumpers from three. Since he was the offensive hub, many possessions ended with McBride trying just to make anything happen, which frequently was a contested jumper. While McBride's mid-range pull-up looked smooth, his outside pull-up looked more uncomfortable, and like a shot he hasn't had years of practice with. Given his mechanics, confidence, and lessened role, though, I wouldn't be surprised if McBride's off-the-dribble numbers eventually improve.

Even though McBride's off-the-dribble numbers aren't earth-shattering, there is still a lot to love about his on-ball potential. McBride isn't an elite ball-handler, but he has some wiggle to his game. McBride also has a high release point and elevates well, making him difficult to defend. When McBride could get into his shot in rhythm or get his defender on their heels, he became much more effective.

In the NBA, McBride's scoring game will likely revolve purely around his shooting. This season, McBride mightily struggled to attack the rim out of isolation. He ranked in only the 18th percentile with 0.623 PPP when he drove in isolation. The issue isn't McBride's at-rim finishing, as he scored 1.186 PPP around the rim in non-post-ups (60th percentile), but instead his ball-handling. McBride has flashes of creation but not enough to sustain long-term driving success.

An interesting counter that McBride used to score inside when he struggled to attack was posting up. This season, McBride scored 1.412 PPP on post-ups (100th percentile). McBride actually ranked seventh in the whole country in post-up PPP, which is incredible for a point guard. It won't be something he's readily asked to do in the NBA, but it is a unique tool to go to when matched up against smaller, less physical guards. McBride has the strength to back guys down or face up and shoot over them.

Passing

Despite having an excellent 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio, McBride is an average playmaker. McBride isn't a flashy passer, rarely passes teammates open, and nothing about his playmaking screams NBA primary initiator. McBride's passes out of the pick-and-roll generated 0.861 PPP (33rd percentile), and his passes out of isolation generated 0.889 PPP (41st percentile). High-level playmaking likely isn't in the cards for McBride, and it may hold him back in the long run.

Even though McBride isn't the best playmaker, he takes excellent care of the ball. He rarely makes mistakes or forces the issue. If an NBA team brings him in with expectations of being a primary initiator, they will be disappointed. However, if McBride is an ancillary creator asked to make simple reads or find open teammates, he will thrive. The label "game manager" usually connotes ineptitude or failure when it actually means a sense of stability and cautiousness. There will be reads that McBride will miss, but his ability to control an offense, take care of the ball, and not make mistakes is precious.

Outlook

Throughout the season, Miles McBride surprised people with his two-way success. He needs to improve his ball-handling, shot selection, and comfort pulling up from three, but he proved that he is a legitimate on-ball scorer. Given McBride's lack of elite playmaking, I expect that he will spend a reasonable amount of time playing off the ball where he is a lethal shooter and can attack closeouts.

The main selling point for McBride, though, is his defense. He is an elite on-ball defender with significant off-ball upside. Few defenders move their feet as well as he does, and he plays with a physicality uncommon with players his size. If McBride can prove to be more disciplined as an off-ball defender, it wouldn't surprise me to see him receive post-season acknowledgment for his defense.

In the 2021 NBA Draft, Miles McBride will likely be taken towards the end of the first or early second round. I would be more than happy to take him in the teens, but going to a contender off the bat may be best for him. McBride is an elite defender with legitimate offensive upside who will help any rotation.

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