Since his skilled profession started just a little over a yr in the past, Mac McClung has lived in 5 totally different cities and performed for six totally different groups. He’s jumped from one coast to the opposite, from the G League to the NBA, from a starter to a backup.
“It’s been loopy, however that’s how the sport goes,” McClung stated in an episode of “The Break,” an authentic sequence produced by the G League. “If I obtained to play for all 30 [teams] to make it, I’m going to play for all 30.”
Life on the fringes of the NBA is commonly a curler coaster. And even for a former highschool famous person and social media sensation like McClung, the highlight doesn’t shine very shiny within the G. Nonetheless, the 6-2 guard out of Texas Tech has quietly been making huge strides.
After going undrafted in 2021, McClung ultimately landed with the South Bay Lakers, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 19.6 factors, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals via the primary 13 video games of the season earlier than being referred to as up by the Chicago Bulls in mid-December. Lots of of gamers entered COVID-19 protocols that month, which led to an unprecedented variety of alternatives for G Leaguers. McClung signed a 10-day contract with the Bulls and made his NBA debut nearly precisely a yr in the past (2 factors in 3 minutes in opposition to the Hawks). Chicago gave him a second 10-day, however McClung didn’t obtain any extra taking part in time, and returned to the South Bay Lakers in January.
First identified for his jaw-dropping dunks, the 23-year-old has proven his versatility as a professional. Again with South Bay, he averaged 21.6 factors, 7.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals, successful the 2021-22 Kia NBA G League Rookie 12 months award (earlier winners embrace Paul Reed, Quinn Prepare dinner, Tim Frazier, and Robert Covington). In April, Los Angeles rewarded McClung with a two-way contract and introduced him up for the ultimate sport of the common season. He capped a stable efficiency (and a Lakers victory) that night with a kind of signature jaw-dropping dunks…
Regardless of a profitable, albeit hectic, rookie yr, and a powerful exhibiting at 2022 Summer season League, McClung didn’t make a gap day roster. He turned down million-dollar affords from golf equipment abroad, as a substitute opting to rejoin the G League and preserve chasing his NBA dream. As a member of the Delaware Blue Coats, the affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, McClung has thrived in numerous roles this season. He dropped a career-high 44 factors in November and notched his second profession triple-double (21 factors, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) shortly after. On some nights, he’s offered a much-needed scoring set off the bench; on others, he’s been the Blue Coats’ main playmaker, operating the offense and facilitating for his teammates.
SLAM caught up with McClung through the latest G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. Delaware gained each of their video games on the annual scouting occasion, with McClung averaging 12.5 factors (on 59 % capturing), 7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.
SLAM: What was your mindset heading into the Showcase?
Mac McClung: Simply to take advantage of no matter my function is for the group. We gained, 2-0, that’s all the time nice. Want we had been within the winner’s bracket. However yeah, simply take advantage of it. Present that I can slot in in any state of affairs.
SLAM: How are you a unique participant this season in comparison with final season?
MM: I believe I simply grew to become higher at adapting to conditions. I really feel like when you’ve seen this yr, I’ve performed a number of totally different roles for this group. And I really feel like I’ve been a constructive affect in every and hopefully folks discover that and spot that I can adapt to any state of affairs.
SLAM: Is there something particular that you just labored on this summer time?
MM: Actually simply movie work on endurance. When your minutes get lower or one thing, folks usually need to pressure issues. I sort of realized to [hold] that again and in addition simply play the sport the suitable method it doesn’t matter what the state of affairs is, which sounds simple however it’s more durable than it sounds.
SLAM: Are you able to sum up what this previous yr has been like for you, with all of the motion up and down and to totally different groups/cities?
MM: It’s been a rollercoaster, when you let it’s. That’s one factor I used to be speaking to my dad and mom about. Should you let success decide your happiness, it’ll simply be a rollercoaster, as a substitute of simply shopping for into every day and the method. That’s one factor I’ve executed. And I’m doing what I like day by day. Me getting higher each single day is my purpose—not [moving] up and down [from the NBA]. So when I’ve that point, hopefully I can seize it.
SLAM: Any particular moments that encapsulate simply how chaotic final season was for you?
MM: Should you take a look at the entire state of affairs, I’ve modified a number of groups. Different groups picked me up. Right here, in [Las Vegas] Summer season League, I ended up with the Warriors, once I began with the Lakers. It’s simply having the ability to adapt, man. That’s simply the League. You’ve obtained to regulate what you possibly can. I can’t management what group I’m taking part in on or if somebody needs to provide me a possibility. I simply all the time keep prepared.
SLAM: Are you able to describe your thought course of while you had been deciding whether or not to rejoin the G League or signal with a group abroad?
MM: I’ll shout out my finest good friend, Zac Ervin. I used to be provided fairly a bit of cash to go abroad—like, in all probability I might change my life with that cash. I all the time inform myself I’m going to stay it via till I make it [to the NBA], as a result of I consider in myself. And also you get provided that stuff and also you’re like, Oh, man. That adjustments. However my boy Zac was like, “Man, that’s not who you might be.” As a result of we labored out day by day from seventh grade to senior yr. Each single day. He was like, “Man, you weren’t within the fitness center for that.” So I’m like, Rattling, that’s not who I’m. Let me get it whereas I’m right here.
SLAM: How was your transient expertise within the NBA final yr helpful? What did you are taking away from it?
MM: It’s good simply seeing it and studying. I believe that’s the most important factor—expertise. In relation to rising, folks speak about, you possibly can work on sure issues, however expertise is so invaluable, man. Being there earlier than is effective. I obtained to the touch the NBA just a little bit and I obtained these nerves out, these jitters, and I obtained to see what it’s about. And I’m prepared at any time when my subsequent alternative comes.
SLAM: What are you able to present an NBA group proper now?
MM: A number of issues—that’s what I’m attempting to point out. I’m numerous. Should you want me to return and be a degree guard off the bench and get others concerned, I can do this. Should you want me to attain, I can rating. I’m going to be energetic—I’m going to be rebounding, diving on the ground, simply [providing] vitality in any method you need me to.
SLAM: What’s the most important false impression about your sport?
MM: After I was in school, I wasn’t a lot of a degree guard. However I believe when you watch these video games, I actually get my teammates concerned.
SLAM: What’s the most important false impression about life within the G League?
MM: Folks simply don’t perceive how lonely it’s, I don’t assume. It’s not simple. Andre Ingram advised me, “Each 5 days, one thing adjustments.” Within the G League, one thing is altering each 5 days.
SLAM: What are your general objectives for this season?
MM: Simply to continue to grow every day, man. I need to play within the NBA. I consider I’m an NBA participant. However that can come once I preserve engaged on every day, attempting to develop every day.
Pictures through Getty Pictures.