It's been a long road back for former Michigan Wolverine Mitch McGary. A nagging back injury limited him to just 8 games during his sophomore campaign in Ann Arbor. Facing a mandatory one-year NCAA suspension after a positive drug test, McGary then opted to enter the NBA Draft, where he was selected 21st by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The ship seemed to right itself. McGary started at power forward for Thunder in place of the then-injured Serge Ibaka. McGary responded by scoring 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting with 4 rebounds and 2 assists. But his injury woes continued. McGary was diagnosed with a fractured foot following his debut performance, sidelining him for nearly two months and removing any chance of working into OKC's rotation from the season's outset.
Now, well into the NBA's second month, McGary may finally be on track - for real this time. Rehabilitating for the Thunder's D-League affiliate (the Oklahoma City Blue), McGary scored 26 points in the Blue's 129-89 victory over the Rio Grande Vipers (Houston Rockets) Wednesday night.
In typical McGary fashion, he left his mark all over the court. In addition to his scoring prowess, McGary chipped in with 9 rebounds, 4 steals, and 4 blocks, showcasing strong activity on the glass, playing passing lanes, and generally giving the 110% for which Michigan fans had grown accustomed.
McGary's role with this year's Thunder remains up in the air, but if Kevin Durant's praise is any indication, McGary may have a future in the big leagues.
"He's such a great teammate and you want to do as much as you can for him," Durant said in October. "I love playing with him. He plays extremely hard. He listens. He wants to get better. He helps us get better as well. He's a smart basketball player."
In fives games for the Blue, McGary is now averaging 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Around the D-League
There's another former Michigan man making waves in the NBA's developmental league, this time out on the left coast. Redford's Manny Harris is currently third in the D-League in scoring, averaging 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists for the Los Angeles Defenders, affiliate to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Harris made headlines last season when he scored 19 points on 8-11 shooting for the Los Angeles Lakers, after the Lakers had already told him they'd planned to release him following the game.
In his first game back down in the D-League, he then posted a jaw-dropping 56 and 16:
With Harris' continued dominance on the lower level, one must imagine the struggling Lakers giving him another look at some point in the near future.