SAN DIEGO – The praise is coming in waves at Warriors rookie Patrick McCaw. It’s coming from teammates and coaches and opponents. It’s enough to make the soft-spoken 20-year-old believe he’s worthy of a maximum contract.
Like, next week.
Acclaim finds those who enter the NBA with the game of a baller and the composure of a veteran, and when they do things beyond what could reasonably be expected of someone who was drafted in the second round.
“I’ve never really received this much praise,” McCaw says.
There is, however, a voice that keeps him grounded. It is that of his father, Jeff McCaw Sr.
Patrick and his father talk after games, with dad offering both advice and critique. It doesn’t matter if his son gets four steals, as Patrick did in his preseason debut on Oct. 1, or hits the game-tying shot in regulation and the game-winner in overtime, as he did in his fourth game, last Friday in Denver.
“It’s great to always have him in my ear, giving his final thought after I hear things from KD (Kevin Durant) and Zaza (Pachulia) and Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson),” Patrick says. “And he still has that one thing that they might have missed out on.”
That’s what dads are for, particularly when they have a background in the game. Jeff McCaw was a high school point guard who later turned to coaching at the high school level in greater St. Louis.
Though he didn’t create Patrick in a factory, Jeff instilled much of the principles that define his son’s game, best described as “find a way to make a positive impact at both ends.”
McCaw’s defense is solid, his anticipation top-notch. He shoots well, though not exceptionally. He has a good handle and he sees the court exceedingly well. Being around the game almost since he could walk, Patrick always seems comfortable on the court, no matter the situation.
“He’s definitely an NBA player,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.
“He’s a smart player; he knows how to play the game,” Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala says of McCaw. “He’s going to play.”
That’s the kind of praise McCaw has been hearing since July, when the UNLV product shined during Summer League in Las Vegas. It hasn’t stopped.
“I’m still kind of a fan of myself, and I really don’t take any of the accolades or things like that to my head,” he says. “Even the buzzer-beater (against the Nuggets) . . . I just looked at it like another game.”
They all look like just another game, though the real games begin until next week. And Patrick expects Jeff McCaw will be on the line, having watched the game in person or on TV before relaying his postgame analysis.
Patrick is accustomed to it. He seems to embrace it, marveling at tips he believes can enhance his development.
“He can remember almost every play,” Patrick says of his dad. “If it was a missed steal or anything, he knows it. It’s kind of crazy, it’s kind of weird, getting that call from him and knowing he’s going to tell me exactly what I did wrong or right.”