Since his skilled profession started somewhat over a yr in the past, Mac McClung has lived in 5 totally different cities and performed for six totally different groups. He’s jumped from one coast to the opposite, from the G League to the NBA, from a starter to a backup.
“It’s been loopy, however that’s how the sport goes,” McClung mentioned in an episode of “The Break,” an authentic collection produced by the G League. “If I acquired to play for all 30 [teams] to make it, I’m going to play for all 30.”
Life on the fringes of the NBA is usually a curler coaster. And even for a former high school superstar and social media sensation like McClung, the highlight doesn’t shine very brilliant within the G. Nonetheless, the 6-2 guard out of Texas Tech has quietly been making huge strides.
After going undrafted in 2021, McClung finally landed with the South Bay Lakers, the affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 19.6 factors, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals by way of the primary 13 video games of the season earlier than being known as up by the Chicago Bulls in mid-December. Tons of of gamers entered COVID-19 protocols that month, which led to an unprecedented variety of alternatives for G Leaguers. McClung signed a 10-day contract with the Bulls and made his NBA debut nearly precisely a yr in the past (2 factors in 3 minutes in opposition to the Hawks). Chicago gave him a second 10-day, however McClung didn’t obtain any extra enjoying time, and returned to the South Bay Lakers in January.
First identified for his jaw-dropping dunks, the 23-year-old has proven his versatility as a professional. Again with South Bay, he averaged 21.6 factors, 7.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals, successful the 2021-22 Kia NBA G League Rookie 12 months award (earlier winners embody Paul Reed, Quinn Prepare dinner, Tim Frazier, and Robert Covington). In April, Los Angeles rewarded McClung with a two-way contract and introduced him up for the ultimate recreation of the common season. He capped a stable efficiency (and a Lakers victory) that night with a kind of signature jaw-dropping dunks…
Regardless of a profitable, albeit hectic, rookie yr, and a formidable exhibiting at 2022 Summer time League, McClung didn’t make a gap day roster. He turned down million-dollar presents from golf equipment abroad, as an alternative opting to rejoin the G League and maintain chasing his NBA dream. As a member of the Delaware Blue Coats, the affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, McClung has thrived in numerous roles this season. He dropped a career-high 44 factors in November and notched his second profession triple-double (21 factors, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) shortly after. On some nights, he’s supplied a much-needed scoring set off the bench; on others, he’s been the Blue Coats’ main playmaker, operating the offense and facilitating for his teammates.
SLAM caught up with McClung throughout the current G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. Delaware gained each of their video games on the annual scouting occasion, with McClung averaging 12.5 factors (on 59 p.c taking pictures), 7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.
SLAM: What was your mindset heading into the Showcase?
Mac McClung: Simply to profit from no matter my position is for the crew. We gained, 2-0, that’s at all times nice. Want we had been within the winner’s bracket. However yeah, simply profit from it. Present that I can slot in in any state of affairs.
SLAM: How are you a special participant this season in comparison with final season?
MM: I feel I simply grew to become higher at adapting to conditions. I really feel like for those who’ve seen this yr, I’ve performed a number of totally different roles for this crew. And I really feel like I’ve been a optimistic affect in every and hopefully folks discover that and see that I can adapt to any state of affairs.
SLAM: Is there something particular that you simply labored on this summer season?
MM: Actually simply movie work on endurance. When your minutes get minimize or one thing, folks typically wish to power issues. I form of realized to [hold] that again and in addition simply play the sport the correct means it doesn’t matter what the state of affairs is, which sounds straightforward however it’s tougher than it sounds.
SLAM: Are you able to sum up what this previous yr has been like for you, with all of the motion up and down and to totally different groups/cities?
MM: It’s been a rollercoaster, for those who let it’s. That’s one factor I used to be speaking to my dad and mom about. Should you let success decide your happiness, it’ll simply be a rollercoaster, as an alternative of simply shopping for into every day and the method. That’s one factor I’ve completed. And I’m doing what I really like each day. Me getting higher each single day is my purpose—not [moving] up and down [from the NBA]. So when I’ve that point, hopefully I can seize it.
SLAM: Any particular moments that encapsulate simply how chaotic final season was for you?
MM: Should you have a look at the entire state of affairs, I’ve modified a number of groups. Different groups picked me up. Right here, in [Las Vegas] Summer time League, I ended up with the Warriors, after I began with the Lakers. It’s simply having the ability to adapt, man. That’s simply the League. You’ve acquired to manage what you possibly can. I can’t management what crew I’m enjoying on or if somebody desires to present me a possibility. I simply at all times keep prepared.
SLAM: Are you able to describe your thought course of if you had been deciding whether or not to rejoin the G League or signal with a crew abroad?
MM: I’ll shout out my greatest pal, Zac Ervin. I used to be provided fairly a bit of cash to go abroad—like, most likely I might change my life with that cash. I at all times inform myself I’m going to stay it by way of till I make it [to the NBA], as a result of I consider in myself. And also you get provided that stuff and also you’re like, Oh, man. That adjustments. However my boy Zac was like, “Man, that’s not who you might be.” As a result of we labored out each day from seventh grade to senior yr. Each single day. He was like, “Man, you weren’t within the fitness center for that.” So I’m like, Rattling, that’s not who I’m. Let me get it whereas I’m right here.
SLAM: How was your transient expertise within the NBA final yr useful? What did you’re taking away from it?
MM: It’s good simply seeing it and studying. I feel that’s the largest factor—expertise. In terms of rising, folks discuss, you possibly can work on sure issues, however expertise is so precious, man. Being there earlier than is efficacious. I acquired to the touch the NBA somewhat bit and I acquired these nerves out, these jitters, and I acquired to see what it’s about. And I’m prepared every time my subsequent alternative comes.
SLAM: What are you able to present an NBA crew proper now?
MM: A number of issues—that’s what I’m attempting to point out. I’m various. Should you want me to return and be a degree guard off the bench and get others concerned, I can do this. Should you want me to attain, I can rating. I’m going to be lively—I’m going to be rebounding, diving on the ground, simply [providing] vitality in any means you need me to.
SLAM: What’s the largest false impression about your recreation?
MM: After I was in school, I wasn’t a lot of a degree guard. However I feel for those who watch these video games, I actually get my teammates concerned.
SLAM: What’s the largest false impression about life within the G League?
MM: Individuals simply don’t perceive how lonely it’s, I don’t suppose. It’s not straightforward. Andre Ingram advised me, “Each 5 days, one thing adjustments.” Within the G League, one thing is altering each 5 days.
SLAM: What are your general targets for this season?
MM: Simply to continue to grow every day, man. I wish to play within the NBA. I consider I’m an NBA participant. However that may come after I maintain engaged on every day, attempting to develop every day.
Photographs through Getty Photos.