McGuire has been working out here in Sacramento for nearly 7 weeks now, having only taken off a week in early March following his team's exit from the first round of the NIT, a game against Georgia in which he compiled a triple double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists (and 4 blocks), his second triple double of the seasoneven if the first one came with double digit blocks instead of assists. That game against Georgia will ultimately prove to be his last from what McGuire told us in Sacramento, as he is, in his words, done at Fresno State and is not looking back.
The fact that he's leaving school following his junior year (his first at Fresno) has nothing to do with Fresno in terms of the basketball or the school, according to McGuire, but was more about me, reminding us at the same time that he went to Cal for two years to begin his college career and then sat out a year after transferring to Fresno. Coming out of high school I thought I would be in the NBA by now already, but it just didn't work out that way.
When pressed about his decision to forgo testing the waters for the sake of jumping in head first, McGuire articulated that he was confident that at this time next year, I would be in the NBA. No one's sure where or how I'll get there, but I am going to be there, so let me get some help in this process. I don't know if I would be able to get it done scheduling wise and so-forth. Other guys have agents, so let me have someone who is working for me, to get the job done.
McGuire says that after preparing for nearly 2 months individually with a private trainer, he is very much looking forward to beginning the process of private workouts, and that whoever I end up going playing against I feel sorry for them honestly.
This statement wasn't made to be boastful or arrogant, just a simple statement of McGuire and his trainer's viewpoint. Both he and Moss feel that they've gained a significant advantage over much of the field by starting the draft preparation process weeks in advance of many other candidates. Many schools finish classes in May and this leaves them with only 2 or 3 weeks of serious preparation time. McGuire elected get a jump on the competition by starting the process early. By putting in 4 hours daily of straight skill and body work, both trainer and player are fully expecting that commitment to pay off.
That leads us into the actual process of preparing that Keith Moss is putting him through right now. Immediately it became evident that McGuire looks better physically than he did last time we saw him. According to Moss, McGuire will measure out in Orlando at 6'8 ½ in shoes, with a wingspan just under 611. He's also added 7 pounds to his frame, bringing him to 219 lbs. Looking at his frame, it's hard not to be impressed. He doesn't seem to have even an ounce of fat on his body, and sports a well proportioned, athletic frame with plenty of room to add more bulk if needed thanks to his wide shoulders.
McGuire has been working out lately alongside his brother Jeremee, a former University of Houston basketball player who has spent time in the minor leagues (the D-League, CBA, USBL) as well as playing in Japan. Dominic's brother, a dead ringer for Kevin Garnett, is even more impressive physically, standing 6'10 with a 7'5 wingspan, and also showing terrific athleticism.
The workout started with a 20 minute shooting drill pitting the McGuire brothers head to head against each other. Each player had to start off hitting 20 layups each in the Mikan Drill, then doing 10 spin-out layups, going around the world hitting 5 mid-range shots in a row from 5 different spots, and finally advancing to shooting college 3-pointers from the spot of their choice, against the clock. The player who hit the most college 3-pointers in the 11 remaining minutes after completing the other parts of the drill won. After starting slow and clearly battling fatigue as the drill continued, Dominic ended up winning by shooting 42/60 from college range, or 70%. For a player who struggled to even hit free throws at a consistent rate (58%) at the collegiate level, and only shot 29.9% from behind the arc, that has to be considered extremely encouraging. He's still somewhat streaky from what we saw, being capable for example of hitting 10 college 3-pointers in a row at one point and missing 5 straight in another.
The reason for the improvement he's seen, besides the hard work he's been putting in 6 times a week over the past 7 weeks, lies in the improved mechanics Moss has implemented in his shot.
On film, it's easy to tell that McGuire would do a great job creating separation from defenders and taking advantage of his explosive leaping ability by just jumping in the air as high as he could and then releasing his jumper from an inconsistent vantage point from shot to shot, often on the way down.
Moss has eliminated the hop in McGuire's spot-up set-shot, getting him to set his feet and release the ball fluidly and fundamentally with good arc and follow-through and a clean snap of the wrist. The results were evident throughout the workout (even if he's not a finished product yet)-- and if McGuire can find a way to shoot at or near the 70% we charted in this drill from the college 3-point line in NBA private workouts, he will help himself tremendously in the eyes of scouts.
Being an athletic and highly versatile 6-8 wing who rebounds (9.8 per game), blocks shots (3.6 per game), passes (3.3 assists), runs the floor and is highly active makes him an intriguing prospect for sure, but being able to knock down open spot-up 3-pointers on top of that makes him that much more valuable, potentially.
After working on shooting, McGuire and Moss proceeded with the heart of the workoutimproving core strength, explosiveness, ball-handling, finishing with contact around the rim, offensive rebounding, and then more shooting drills.
All of the drills (besides the ones involving shooting) were conducted with a 3 pound training ball rather than the standard 1.3 pounds. This ball is used in order to improve (amongst other things) ball-handling skills and strength. As we mentioned in our scouting report a few months ago, McGuire is clearly a nice ball-handler, but what was surprising to see was how little difference there was between his right and left hands. He's actually better with his left hand, but still looks smooth and fluid handling the ball in basically every drill that was thrown at him. Watching this and thinking about his strengths and weaknesses as a player (particularly his passing ability), it's not hard to envision him in a Lamar Odom type point forward role, minus about 2 inches of course.
Moss subscribes to a similar theory we've seen over at David Thorpe's gym (now at IMG Academy), focusing heavily on core strength, quickness, leaping ability, getting after the ball and improving activity level both through instilling an aggressive mentality in the player through the various drills, as well as giving them the physical tools to compete in the hyper-athletic NBA by sharpening their ability to explode off the spot and outquick their opponents.
Drills included dribbling the ball off the backboard while jumping simultaneously (try it at home it's exhausting), exploding off the ground and dunking again and again instantaneously as the ball is caught coming out of the net, having to track down and pounce on long offensive rebounds thrown hard off the glass before again finishing strong, and our favorite, an NFL inspired drill. In this last one, the player receives the ball underneath the rim and is forced to finish aggressively through contact while taking a tremendous two-handed barehanded wallop coming down on him from the trainer Keith Moss on one side and a direct hit in the chest from his brother holding a football-style blocking pad on the other.
The McGuires finished off their exhausting day with shooting drills from all over the court, both with their feet set, using the glass, and off the dribble coming off a simulated screen. Some minor work on post moves (turnaround jumpers, jump-hooks, etc) was added in for good measure. McGuire shot 22/26 (85%) from one baseline from 17-18 feet out, and then 24/27 (89%) from the other. From the elbow (about 19 feet out) he went 19/30 (63%) on one occasion, and 22/29 (76%) on another. Shooting in motion coming off a screen is still a work in progress for him, coming horizontally he was 7/12 (58%), while running in vertically he shot 9/13 ( 69%). As mentioned, he has a tendency to shoot the ball on his way down, which hinders him from achieving a consistent release point. This part of his game still appears to be a work in progress, which isn't a surprise considering that his shooting was obviously his biggest weakness in college.
Like many skill and athleticism oriented workouts intended for preparing players before the pre-draft process actually kicks off, there were very few game-type settings in which to evaluate the player off of. From our perspective, we were able to get an excellent gauge for McGuire's conditioning and physical gifts, as well as his improved shooting mechanics and ball-handling skills, but not much elsemeaning how he actually plays in a real competitive setting. Already having been told that he will very likely be invited to the pre-draft camp in Orlando, that is where McGuire skill-set will have to really be evaluated off of. For a more in-depth look into the type of player he is, read his scouting report linked above.