The newest Thunder missed most of his sophomore season with a lower back injury and revealed he failed a NCAA drug test this past April. But despite those documented issues, Thunder general manger Sam Presti says McGary's positives outweigh the negatives to justify OKC's pick Thursday night.
"Mitch is guy that we followed for quite some time," Presti said at McGary's introduction press conference today. "He brings tremendous energy, passion. He plays with a great basketball IQ. And he brings a toughness that we value."
Presti further addressed McGary's failed drug test.
"He took accountability," Presti said on McGary's failed drug test. "He showed that he was remorseful. He said publicly that he's really learned from it. We've done an incredible amount of due diligence on him. If I wasn't comfortable with the work we've done the last three years, then we wouldn't have moved forward."
Coming into his sophomore season at Michigan, McGary was named to the preseason All-American team. There was much expected of him after he helped lead the Wolverines to a national runner-up finish in the 2013 NCAA tournament. But after eight games, his season would be lost due to a lower back condition. He would decide to have lower back surgery on Jan. 7. He averaged 9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds on the season.
"It's great to part of such a first class origination," McGary said in his opening statement. "I am thrilled to be here. I can't wait to get started. Kevin Durant already texted me this morning, saying ‘I can't wait to get to work.' So I know these guys are eager to get us in the gym and get ready being another NBA contender next year. So Thunder up."
At 6-foot-10, 255-pounds, McGary skill-set is unique for his size. He showcases great athleticism and brings a blue-collar attitude to the court.
"I like to bring a lot of toughness," McGary said. "I know this is tough, but everybody needs an extra edge. I definitely like to bring a lot more energy on and off the court. Being on the bench I am up on my feel almost every possession. So whatever it takes for the team to win, I'm going to try to bring to the table."
And McGary's attitude as a injured but yet positive teammate this past season is what further solidified Presti's decision to draft the former Wolverine.
"The last thing that is really, really impressive to us, and the reason that we value him even more, is that he's an incredible teammate -- just an incredible teammate," Presti said. "That was on display during the season when he missed a significant amount of time."
McGary said recently he still isn't 100 percent healthy. However, he still should have a great chance to win the starting job over Kendrick Perkins his rookie season.
Now, will see if he can get back healthy before his NBA career starts.