Paul, McCamey Bringing Illinois Connection, Productivity To Wolves
Paul, McCamey Bringing Illinois Connection, Productivity To Timberwolves' Summer League Roster
Demetri McCamey said nothing is off limits when he talks hoops with Brandon Paul. The two former Illinois teammates rally things off one another, give each other advice and dish out a little trash talk here and there—which Illini team was better, who has the edge with a specific skill, etc.
“There’s a lot of options off that,” McCamey said.
If the two start bantering about who’s having the better Summer League, it might take a while.
Both McCamey and Paul have been locked in offensively in Las Vegas. They’re each taking advantage of the motion offense the Wolves try to implement and making the most of their minutes. Through the three-game preliminary round, the backcourt duo is shooting a combined 55 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range.
As they continue to perform, their minutes continue to increase. McCamey didn't get into the game during the Wolves’ first contest on Saturday, while Paul played only 7:49. By Minnesota’s third game on Tuesday, the two played more than 22 minutes apiece and McCamey got the nod as the starting point guard.
After Sunday’s practice, McCamey sounded optimistic he’d get his chance and felt confident he’d be able to make the most of that opportunity when he got the chance. Turns out he was right.
“Minnesota is a lot of young guys, so you never know when you’re going to get a lot of opportunities,” McCamey said on Sunday. "You just have to wait your turn, and everything happens for a reason. That’s what I believe. It should be tremendous to get out there and play and just showcase my talent.”
Both Paul and McCamey have entered this opportunity with the Wolves with optimism that they can find a spot on an NBA roster based off their play, and they’re getting a chance to go through it together.
Paul and McCamey spent two years together at the University of Illinois in 2009-10 and 2010-11, making a trip to the NCAA Tournament and winning their first round game together when McCamey was a senior and Paul was a sophomore. That season McCamey was the team’s top scorer, averaging 14.6 per game while averaging 33.4 minutes a night. Paul’s position overlapped with McCamey, averaging 22.4 minutes and 9.0 points per game while sharing the back court on a team that finished 20-14 overall.
In Las Vegas, McCamey is averaging 9.5 per game and shooting 63.6 percent from the field. He’s 5-of-6 from 3-point land and has fit in well with a barrage of scorers from distance who are helping Minnesota shoot 50 percent from 3 overall this week.
Paul isn’t far behind. He’s scoring 8.0 points per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and has hit 4-of-9 shots from distance. He’s put together a couple highlight-caliber jams and collected three steals and a block in Tuesday’s game against the Heat.
McCamey, being the older player who has been through the professional ranks for two years, said he’s been glad to offer advice along the way. Paul said just having McCamey around helpful in adjusting from college to the next level. The same thing goes for former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel, who both played against in the Big Ten.
“You kind of get to trust the guys and you know their habits, their strong suits and their strong points,” Paul said. “You try to focus on that and try to build on that on the court. Obviously I haven’t played with Demetri in a couple years, and it’s my first time playing with Robbie, but you kind of know their games having played with them for so long.”
McCamey agreed that when you play together in the Big Ten, both within the conference itself and especially on a specific team, you are part of a fraternity together for a lifetime. Having familiar faces around makes the transition a little easier. But given McCamey has played professionally for two years and was with the Bulls’ Summer League team last year, so he came in prepared for what to expect.
This time around, he gets to go through the process with a former teammate in the same back court.
“It’s great to see a familiar face,” McCamey said.