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From Las Vegas: Jordan McRae is a Beast

He nearly went undrafted, but in Las Vegas, Jordan McRae played like someone who definitely belongs in the NBA and on the Sixers' roster.

Streeter Lecka

It's really simple: getting to the foul line is the most efficient way to score in basketball.

With his 6-5 frame and 7-0 wingspan, Jordan McRae showed a true knack for drawing contact and getting to the stripe during his four-game stint in Las Vegas this past week.

"His ability to get to the free throw line has been something I've been constantly impressed with," Sixers assistant coach Chad Iske said. "It's a big thing in the NBA, even when he doesn't shoot the ball great from the field, he finds a way to be efficient because he gets to the line. He has a knack of slithering into that paint and drawing contact. It's something that we're excited to see more of."

For the week, McRae contributed 21.0 points per game, third among all Vegas scorers, on 50 percent shooting from the field, 37.5 percent shooting from three-point land, and 86.5 percent from the line. He reached the foul line 9.3 times per game. Yes, it's only Summer League, but that mark would have ranked second in the NBA last season behind only Kevin Durant. The entire NBA!

McRae went to the line 5.7 times in his senior season at Tennessee, but almost went undrafted in June before the Spurs scooped him up at No. 58 and traded him to the Sixers. So, how did he torch every Summer League opponent he faced?

"To some extent, I think his body type you can compare him to Kevin Martin a little bit," Iske said. "His ability to put the ball on the floor and when he's going, if he gets hit, it knocks him off balance so in a way I think it helps him get to the line because it effects his rhythm when people put their body on him and he's able to get his shoulders by the defender."

We saw that same thing when Allen Iverson drove the lane during his heyday. That by no means is comparing McRae to Iverson, but it might go to show how skinny dudes seemingly get to the line more frequently. Maybe refs see them go flying after a 6-8, 225-pound Monstar bumps them in the paint and immediately feel the need to blow their whistle. That certainly seemed to be the case on many an evening with Michael Carter-Williams last season.

"At certain times of the game, if a defender's riding me, I know how the NBA calls, so you can get to the line a little bit easier than you can in college," McRae said. I'm just trying to use things like that to my advantage."

That's a pretty keen observation from a second-round pick technically still fighting for his first NBA contract, though it seems very likely he'll earn a roster spot on a Philly team with a dearth of wing scorers. Even with Nerlens Noel's impressive play, McRae was, pretty arguably, the Sixers best player throughout both Summer Leagues this month.

Yet, unlike many in his position in the past, McRae said he didn't use his low Draft stock as motivation in Las Vegas.

"I'm just out here playing hard," McRae said. "We've got a great staff, we've got pretty good teammates, but we're just trying to play hard. I definitely feel I can play in this league and just getting a chance to play against guys like Tony Snell and Doug McDermott and just playing hard with them lets me see where I stack up."

McRae's most impressive accomplishment in Las Vegas was simply bringing it on a consistent basis ever night. When Noel and K.J. McDaniels were sitting pretty much every game, McRae was out there in all but two contests, dominating and lighting up the scoreboard.

"You see a lot of guys that are able to have one good game, maybe two good games, but he's been able to answer the bell every night, put up big numbers and be effective," Iske said.

His body type that Iske mentioned fits into Sam Hinkie's preferred model of employing players with defensive versatility, too. In McRae's first game in a Sixers practice uniform, he blocked two shots in transition with his long arms.

Overall, the Sixers might have a second-round gem in McRae. In Vegas, he was nothing but a beast.

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