(NOTE: THIS IS NOT DEBATING WHO IS BETTER. LARRY BIRD IS CLEARLY THE SUPERIOR IN THIS SITUATION. THIS IS SIMPLY THE COMPARISON OF HOW THEY PLAY)
When I saw the most recent Doug McDermott Sports Illustrated cover, I was really surprised. I'm not a huge college basketball fan, but I immediately researched McDermott because I've never seen a Larry Bird comparison since Dirk Nowitzki. If this really is a Larry Bird comparison, then I am going to scream.
I have never been able to find a Larry Bird comparison, and the closest I and many others have come, is Dirk Nowitzki. Now, that there is a chance that there is another fair comparison, I am really excited. I am going to jump right into this and start with their stat lines:
As we all know, Larry Bird was an amazing shooter. He could shoot from any where on the court, and later developed a three point shot in the NBA (When they added a three point line). Overall, Bird shot 53% from the field and 83% from the free throw line. He became a great three point shooter when he was given the chance, but could still shoot with great range in college. Bird averaged 20 FGA and 8 FTA per game in college.
McDermott is now a great shooter. He is shooting from the post, mid-range, and three point range. This year, Doug is averaging 53% from the field and 87% from the free throw line. He is a great three point shooter as he shoots 45% from three, and has LOOONG range. This season, McDermott averages 21 FGA and 7 FTA per game. It's no surprise Bird and McDermott average near the same PPG.
Scoring could go along with shooting, but I thought I would bring it up just to show the amount of scoring between the two. Bird averaged 28 PPG his last year at Indiana State, and now, McDermott is averaging 26 PPG. They are very similar in shooting, and this leads right over into scoring.
Now, the difference between Larry Bird and Doug McDermott's stats can be very misleading. Bird averaged 14 rebounds per game for his career at Indiana State. Bird was obviously very talented, but the game was much quicker. Indiana State, in 1979, shot the ball 2365 times. Creighton has shot the ball 1818 times this season. Obviously, there is a very large difference. With more shots being taken, more shots were being missed, and there were more rebound chances for Larry Bird. Still, grabbing 14 rebounds per game is no easy task in any generation. McDermott is also a great rebounder. Doug averages 7 rebounds per game, this year, and 8 rebounds per game for his career. Either generation, with any amount of shots taken, both are great rebounder's.
Larry Bird and Doug McDermott are both around the same size - or at least in college. McDermott is 6 foot 8 inches and 225 pounds. Larry Bird was recorded as 6 foot 9 inches and 220 pounds. Their sizes allowed them to grab rebounds and make contested shots. Their size also contributes/ed to their post game on the block.
Larry Bird and Doug McDermott are great in the post. Bird was so crafty around the basket and could shoot one legged or two legged fade away's. His great focus, creativity, and shooting allowed him to be great in the post. McDermott is also very crafty around the basket, and has a great one legged fade away in the post. It's no where near Dirk or Bird, but he plays a similar post game to Bird.
Larry Bird and Doug McDermott have some similarities, but they also have to have differences.
Passing was the biggest difference I found between Bird and McDermott. Bird was a sensational passer and averaged 6 assists per game his last year. McDermott is definitely not known for passing as he averages 1 assist per game this year. Bird was one of the most unselfish players basketball has ever seen, but I do not see that in McDermott.
Bird and McDermott both do not have potential to be great defenders. However, Bird did not care about his lack of speed or agility and used quickness and thinking to his advantage. Bird was great on help defense and picking off passes. Although the NCAA did not count steals and blocks when Bird played, we can look at his stats in the NBA. Bird averaged 2 steals per game and 1 block per game for his career, and made 3 all defensive teams in the NBA. McDermott has questions surrounding whether or not his defense will hurt his draft stock. He also averages 0.2 steals per game (uhhh...) and 0.1 blocks per game. If Doug wants to help his draft stock and become a great all around player, like Bird, he has to improve his defense. As you can see, McDermott and Bird have great differences in their defense.
In the end, McDermott and Bird have some similarities, but also two major differences in how they play basketball. Doug and Bird share some similarities in shooting and scoring, but on defense, they are completely different.
(AGAIN: THIS IS NOT A DEBATE ABOUT WHO IS BETTER. BIRD IS OBVIOUSLY BETTER THAN MCDERMOTT IN EVERY CATEGORY I JUST MENTIONED)