One of the nations leading scorers, Rob McKiver had a solid showing this past week at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. The shooting guard, who was by far and away the top offensive option on the Houston Cougars this year, proved to be the most trigger happy member of his team during the three games he saw action. McKivers play at Portsmouth was very consistent with what we saw of him during the regular season.
Physically, there really isnt much about McKiver that translates well towards playing shooting guard in the NBA. At 63 he is very undersized for the off guard spot and he doesnt have great length to compensate for his lack of height. His open floor speed and leaping ability arent overly impressive either, something that has hampered him in the transition game from what we have seen. McKiver is a crafty player, though, and his range from the perimeter is almost unlimited at the college level.
McKiver spends most of his time on offense operating behind the three point line. While his 38.6% shooting percentage beyond the arc may not seem incredibly impressive, the fact that he attempted 376 shots from the outside during the regular season explains why his accuracy wasnt higher: the sheer volume of attempted shots partly dictates the percentage. Attempting over 11 3-pointers per game, McKiver shoots more often off the dribble than he does from spot-up positions. He has a fairly quick release, but because of his size he often needs a little space to get his shot off, so Houston runs a good number of screens for him on the perimeter. What makes McKiver so impressive though is his ability to pull up and knock down shots from beyond even the NBA three point line. It is likely that his shooting percentage would be even higher from beyond the arc, but at times he gets somewhat overzealous with his shooting abilities and will force long shots rather than working for a closer look. His uneven play at times borders on selfish, as he will freeze teammates out and force the entire offense to watch as he dribbles his way aimlessly around the court looking for a way to get his shot off.
When McKiver does attack the basket he fairs pretty well considering his physical limitations. His first step is average, so typically he isnt going to take most defenders off the dribble unless he gets a mismatch. Despite this lack of speed though, McKiver is a crafty ball handler and knows how to read defenses and attack. His likes to rely on a spin move typically when he gets into the paint, but in general does a nice job of changing direction when driving to the basket. He also appears to have a pretty good knack for knowing how to use screeners to his advantage. Often times McKiver will recognize when a help defender is going to hedge on a screen and will slip between the screen instead, freeing himself up.
Once he gets into the lane, McKiver exhibits nice body control, able to maneuver around defenders with a fair amount of consistency. He also has shown some toughness, able to get bumped and finish anyway from time to time. He runs into trouble when facing longer, more athletic defenders who are able to elevate much better than he can. Despite his ability to protect the ball with his body, a lot of times it isnt enough since he does elevate exceptionally well. This lack of overall athleticism hurts him in transition too, as several times during the season we saw what should have been easy fast break lay ups for him get blocked or altered by speedy defenders.
Defensively, McKiver isnt a major presence. He spends the majority of his time on the perimeter, so he typically will only pick up long rebounds that bounce out of the immediate area of the basket. He does have quick, active hands and showed fairly good instincts during the regular season; attributes that allowed him to average 1.6 steals per game. One issue that was apparent during the season and was on display at Portsmouth was the issues McKiver faces when defending taller perimeter players. From what weve seen it isnt that difficult for bigger guards to elevate and shoot over him on a regular basis, not needing much room to get their shot off. His lateral quickness is also a concern, more so on this end of the floor than on the offensive side of the ball. Having just a 6-3 wingspan hurts him greatly in this area.
McKiver certainly is an impressive shooter and a dynamic scorer, but at the end of the day this was done against weaker college competition and on a tremendous number of shots. During the regular season he attempted more than 17 shots per game, which accounted for 27.5% of his teams field goal attempts on a nightly basis. McKiver is a big time volume shooter who lacks the size, length and athleticism of a true shooting guard; this isnt the resume of a player who is going to hear their name called on draft night. With that said though, he will likely be invited to Orlando based on the fact that he had a solid showing at Portsmouth. Here hell have another good opportunity to impress the swarm of international scouts that will be in attendance.