It is not often that Wizards fans get a glimpse of forward Chris McCullough, who resides on the end of Washington's bench. He only gets playing time at the very end of already-determined games or out of necessity due to injury on rare occasions.
McCullough is often only in the game for a few minutes at a time, but he makes the most of the opportunity. He is active running the floor and attacking the rim, trying to put up any stats he can before the final buzzer rings.
The numbers reflect that if you want to have fun with small sample sizes. McCullough is averaging 2.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 4.8 minutes, which equate to 19.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes. Obviously, his numbers can't fairly be extrapulated over a full game. But the numbers he does record demonstrate that when he gets out there, he's not messing around.
"I make the most out of my three minutes," McCullough said. "I go get me a rebound, an assist or a dunk. That's my three minutes right there."
His efficiency with his minimal playing time has drawn attention and jokes from his teammates. In a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 27, regular rotation players Markieff Morris and Mike Scott couldn't help but notice they didn't get a dunk in 30 minutes and 23 minutes, respectively, but that McCullough did in just four minutes on the floor.
"I come in and get a dunk right away. That's what I normally do," McCullough said.
Scott is a good player to ask about McCullough, as the two spent time together in the D-League during the 2016-17 season. He has watched McCullough develop over the past two seasons, first as a member of the Nets organization and now with the Wizards.
Scott sees a bright future for the 22-year-old.
"Man, he has so much athletic ability," Scott said. "I always tell him all the time 'man, you're gonna make a lot of money.' I know people are not supposed to say that to keep younger players like him level-headed and to keep them humble. But I always tell him that."
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At 29 years old, Scott has played six NBA seasons and his game has changed along the way. He relies less and less on his athleticism as a veteran player who has learned the tricks of the trade.
McCullough remains a raw talent and has a lot to learn, but Scott has noticed improvement.
"He has nice touch, he has great length, quickness, speed. I just tell him he needs to slow down sometimes," Scott said. "His mind is moving faster than his body. Once he slows down and really starts to understand the game, he's gonna be a problem. He already can jump out of the gym."
Scott, who jokingly claims he taught McCullough how to shoot, says he thinks the game is slowing down for McCullough, but the young forward needs to continue learning his shooting spots on the floor and working on his ball-handling.
McCullough said his focus recently has been pull-up jumpers in the halfcourt and transition. He is also continuing to learn how to establish a proper routine for NBA success.
Part of that is observing veteran players like Scott, Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith.
"First guy I watch is Jason Smith. He's been here for 10 or 11 years. He's a good professional. Not only on the court, but off the court as well. Everything he does, I try to mimic," McCullough said.
The Wizards declined the fourth-year option on McCullough's rookie contract back in October, but have the ability to sign him this summer if they want when McCullough will hit free agency. Members of the Wizards front office remain confident about his future and their chances of retaining him if they choose.
Though it may not show up during meaningful minutes in games, McCullough appears to be heading in the right direction.
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Listen to our recent interview with Chris McCullough on the Wizards Tipoff podcast: