Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott Introductory Press Conference

July 6, 2018 - Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard and head coach Nate McMillan introduce Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott to the Indianapolis media.

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Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott Introductory Press Conference

July 6, 2018 - Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard and head coach Nate McMillan introduce Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott to the Indianapolis media.
Jul 6, 2018  |  20:33

Tyreke Evans: "I Just Want to Win"

July 6, 2018 - After signing with the Pacers, veteran guard Tyreke Evans sits down with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss to talk about why he chose Indiana and what he can bring to the organization.
Jul 6, 2018  |  02:57

Doug McDermott on Joining the Pacers

July 6, 2018 - New Pacers forward Doug McDermott met with Pacers.com to discuss why he chose to sign with the team.
Jul 6, 2018  |  02:46

Highlights: New Pacers Guard Tyreke Evans

July 6, 2018 - The Pacers have officially signed guard Tyreke Evans. Check out these highlights from Evans' nine-year NBA career.
Jul 6, 2018  |  01:00

Highlights: New Pacers Forward Doug McDermott

July 6, 2018 - The Pacers have officially signed forward Doug McDermott. Check out these highlights from McDermott's four-year NBA career.
Jul 6, 2018  |  01:00

Mobile McDermott Hopes He's Found a Home

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer

The Pacers were Doug McDermott's favorite team as a kid growing up in Iowa, and that's not something he claims just because he's signed a contract with the Pacers. He's got the paraphernalia to prove it.

He had a Reggie Miller jersey as a kid, and later replicas for Jermaine O'Neal and Austin Croshere. Had a Pacers sweatshirt that he wore out, too. Wore wristbands the way Miller did. Pretended to be Miller while shooting in the driveway at home. Convinced his father to drive over from Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a game to watch Miller play once. Had his picture taken with Miller before a practice during the NCAA tournament.

He didn't dare take Miller's jersey number, 31, though.

"That would have been disrespectful," he said Friday, when introduced at a press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

He'll wear No. 20, the same number he wore last season while playing for New York and Dallas, as well as the number worn by, in his words, "Pacer legend Fred Hoiberg."

Given his knowledge of the Pacers, it's appropriate that McDermott wind up playing for them, as roundabout a path as it's been. And given his admiration for Miller, it's appropriate that he has modeled his game after the Pacers legend. Unathletic by NBA standards, as Miller was, McDermott became the 11th pick in the draft — just as Miller had been — largely because of qualities he shares with Miller. He's an uncanny catch-and-shoot 3-point marksman who also scores by curling off screens for layups, as Miller was. He rarely creates off the dribble, same as Miller didn't, and isn't a great defender, as Miller wasn't.

Doug McDermott, Reggie Miller

Doug McDermott met childhood idol Reggie Miller before an NCAA Tournament game. (Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff)

Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers' President of Basketball Operations, wasn't seeking a legendary Hall of Famer when he went shopping for a backup small forward this summer, he merely wanted someone to add perimeter scoring punch off the bench. The Pacers were the NBA's ninth-best 3-point shooting team last season (.369) but shot six fewer per game than opponents and were outscored by a total of 387 points behind the 3-point line over the course of the season.

The second unit bears a significant share of blame for that deficit, which is what attracted the Pacers to McDermott. He's hit 40.3 percent of his 3-point attempts over his career. More relevantly, he hit 42.6 percent last year while splitting time between New York and Dallas. Even more relevantly, the Pacers hope, he hit 49.4 percent in his 26 games with Dallas at the end of the season.

And, there's this enticing nugget: he hit 65.2 percent of his corner 3-point attempts for the Mavericks.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle coached Miller for three seasons as Larry Bird's assistant and then for four seasons as the Pacers' head coach. He knows how to utilize players the likes of Miller or McDermott, and therefore devised ways for McDermott to thrive like never before in the NBA.

McDermott averaged 9 points while playing 22.9 minutes per game for the Mavericks. He shot fewer than seven times per game, and his "true" shooting percentage, which takes into account three-point shots and free throws, was a career-high .611.

"Coach Carlisle did a great job allowing me to move around out there, coming off screens, coming off pindowns," McDermott said. "I'm not a guy who needs the ball in my hands a lot to be successful. I feel like my best strength is moving without the basketball, and that alone puts pressure on the defense."

Pacers coach Nate McMillan recently received a text from Carlisle reading, "you got a really solid player." He plans to use McDermott much the same way Carlisle did, but also wants to drive McDermott toward becoming a better defensive player — just as he did with Bojan Bogdanovic, who came to the Pacers a year ago with the reputation of a poor defender and became, at the very least, an average one.

"We're going to be looking for him to bust up some games on the defensive end of the floor and help rebound the basketball," McMillan said. "We tell guys, 'Do what you do, but there's some other things that we're going to be asking you to do.' And we're going to ask him to (defend). I think he's athletic enough."

McDermott is on board with that.

"I feel I've made strides there, but I feel I can take it to another level," he said.

"Part of it's your body. I feel I have a great medical staff here that's going to find ways to improve my quickness. And, being around a coach who will spend time with me to go over things (will help). When you're with four different coaches in four years, there's a lot of different terminology, a lot of different voices you're hearing."

In that regard, McDermott and Miller have absolutely nothing in common. Miller played 18 seasons for the Pacers, and nobody else. McDermott, at 26 years old, has played for four teams in four NBA seasons. He was drafted by Denver with the 11th pick in 2015, but traded to Chicago as part of a draft night trade. The Bulls later traded him to Oklahoma City for the final 22 games of the 2016-17 season, which enabled him to become friends with Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oladipo and Sabonis were traded to the Pacers for Paul George on July 6 last year. Then on Sept. 25, a day before OKC opened training camp, McDermott was traded to New York in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Thunder. The Knicks then traded him to Dallas as part of a three-way deal with Denver, primarily to acquire point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, in February.

Playing for four teams in four seasons isn't what McDermott had in mind on draft night, but he made the most of it.

"I could have hung my head but I looked at it as an opportunity to get better and I think I played the best basketball of my career," he said.

He said he had serious interest from three or four teams in free agency, but had it narrowed to two by the midnight opening of free agency on July 1. He was thrilled that it worked out with the Pacers, and hopes he can settle in Indianapolis beyond his three-year contract. He's most comfortable away from the brightest lights, having grown up in places such as Fargo, N.D., Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb., while his father, Gregg, advanced his college coaching career.

That, along with his acquaintance with Oladipo and Sabonis and his boyhood affection for the Pacers, nearly makes this move feel like going home.

"I've been enough places," he said. "I feel like being a Midwest kid I fit in really well with the community here. I can just worry about basketball and just try to improve my game.

"I just want to feel comfortable."

Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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