McDermott: Pacers Have Right Mindset to Succeed in Orlando

July 8, 2020 - On a Zoom call with reporters, Pacers forward Doug McDermott discussed the unique circumstances of the upcoming NBA season restart in Orlando and why he is confident in the Pacers' chances in the playoffs.

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McDermott: Pacers Have Right Mindset to Succeed in Orlando

July 8, 2020 - On a Zoom call with reporters, Pacers forward Doug McDermott discussed the unique circumstances of the upcoming NBA season restart in Orlando and why he is confident in the Pacers' chances in the playoffs.
Jul 8, 2020  |  03:14

Justin Holiday on Decision to Play in Orlando, Social Justice

July 7, 2020 - Pacers forward Justin Holiday discusses his decision to participate in the NBA season restart in Orlando and his recent essay in The Players' Tribune on using his platform to promote social justice.
Jul 7, 2020  |  03:56

McDermott Hungry to Get Back on the Court

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Doug McDermott says the Pacers are "hungry" as they prepare to head for Orlando to resume the NBA season. He also says he improved his culinary skills during the lockdown after moving back in with his parents, which seems a fitting combination for a guy who's likely to have an enhanced role with the team.

More worldly matters are calling, however, and McDermott spoke out on those during a Zoom call with media members on Wednesday.

As one of three American white players on the Pacers' roster along with T.J. McConnell and TJ Leaf, and one of a small number in the league, McDermott expressed his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He complimented teammate Malcolm Brogdon's podcast with one of the NBA's white players, JJ Redick, as well as Justin Holiday's Players' Tribune essay, and offered his own thoughts.

"Enough is enough," he said. "It's embarrassing, it's sad, what's going on in our country in recent times — and frankly the last hundreds of years. It's sad. It's most important to educate ourselves. I think going down to Orlando will give us that platform to promote real change.

"For me, it's all about having these uncomfortable conversations. White people are kind of scared to speak out on this; it's uncomfortable to talk about it...These are my brothers, these are some of my best friends for life. I grew up in Iowa, where there's not a huge black population. I was raised to treat everyone equal, to treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

"Unfortunately, that hasn't been going on for a lot of people for a long time. It's sad. I hope guys like myself and T.J. McConnell and J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver, guys like that in the NBA, can put our mark on this and help promote real change. We'll do whatever it takes just for a little change in this country."

Change also will be the theme regarding the basketball activities in Orlando. Players will be quarantined for long stretches, dinner will be brought to their hotel rooms and games will be played without fans, among other adjustments. McDermott believes the Pacers are equipped to handle — and perhaps benefit from — what promises to be a bizarre atmosphere.

"Some teams potentially can wear down mentally because of the circumstances," he said. "I think we're a team that can rise above it and make some noise."

Why?

"I just think we have some really mentally tough guys here, guys who are hungry," he said. "A lot of us have the underdog chip-on-our-shoulder mentality. A lot of us have bounced around the league a little bit, myself included. I think we have that mindset where we can come together down there. A lot of teams probably don't want to be there. I'm sure there a lot of people are hopping on the plane second-guessing whether they should go. I think we have a lot of good guys in the locker room who are motivated to win. Coach Nate (McMillan) has been preaching that to us this whole time, keeping us ready. And we're hungry.

"The team that's going to go far is the team that's mentally tough enough. If you think, 'Oh, we don't have homecourt, we don't have fans, I'm not in my own bed,' you're probably not going to win. We have to go in there with that mindset that we can control what we can control and see what happens."

PHOTO GALLERY: Pacers Prepare for Orlando with Individual Workouts »

McDermott addressed literal hunger during the lockdown by learning to cook. He described himself as "really good at breakfast." He learned to make tacos. His father, Greg, the head coach at Creighton University, taught him how to grill.

"I've come a long way," he said.

He also had time to play a lot of golf and whittled his handicap down to 4.8. But he focused on basketball, mostly, benefiting from the luxury of having access to the facilities at Creighton.

McDermott sat out the final three games before the season was suspended because of a toe injury but to that point was having the best of his six NBA seasons. His scoring average (10.4 points per game), field goal percentage (.491) and 3-point percentage (.445) all were career highs. His advanced stats for efficiency and win shares also were the best of his career, which has taken him to five teams.

Although he has not started any games this season, and only one last season, his playing time when play resumes should be enhanced by the ripple effect of the absence of shooting guards Victor Oladipo and Jeremy Lamb. That gives him optimism for the rest of the season, as does what he has witnessed in the informal, non-coached workouts at St. Vincent Center in advance of Thursday's departure for Orlando.

"I think guys took (staying in shape) very seriously," he said. "I'm not just saying that. I've seen guys come back in really good shape. Obviously, we're not allowed to do much on the court with each other, but from a distance I've seen guys who are really sharp. We're ready to go.

"We know we don't have a lot of time to get ready in Orlando, so we have to take advantage of these last few days leading into it. I think we've done a really good job these last few weeks. We've had all our guys back. Everyone seems very committed to this and we're excited.

"It's history in the making. I think every day knowing you're about to give the fans something to watch on TV and entertain the world, that will be motivation for us."


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.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

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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