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USC NBA Draft Profile: Finding a New Home for Jordan McLaughlin

The undrafted free agent pool of talent may be a one teams dip into more this summer as the cap situation around the NBA looks grim.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Arizona vs Southern California Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It is an exodus equivalent to what happens at Kentucky basketball every season, with the USC Trojans basketball team watching four starts walk out the door. Among their number: Starting point guard Jordan McLaughlin, set to test the waters as undrafted free agents.

So what does Jordan McLaughlin bring to the table?

McLaughlin was one of college’s top level playmakers, tying a PAC-12 single-game record with 19 assists against USCB. He averaged 7.5 assists per game and was the engine for the USC offense, getting the Trojans to a 78 points per game average the past two seasons. The highest points per game average of any USC teams over the past eight seasons (and it is not even close).

When he does take the ball to the rack instead of passing off to a teammate, he is an incredibly efficient scorer. He posted a 52 percent effective field goal percentage and shot 44 percent from the field. His player efficiency rating was a career-high 21.3 in 2017-18. His efficient shooting pairs very well with a fantastic sixth sense for finding an open shooter.

Even with such a resume, McLaughlin will still have an uphill journey because of the uncertainty that is the undrafted course.

Or maybe not?

The NBA’s cap situation league-wide (found on NBA Spotrac) is a dismal one. Just five teams possess any cap space this summer, the Atlanta Hawks the sole team with double-digit figures for space. This summer will be one marked by tightened belts around the NBA.

That being the case, the point guard with the fourth highest assist average last season could be a productive, affordable option for teams desperate for fresh backcourt talent. Here are three teams that would benefit not only from obtaining McLaughlin’s talent, but also his affordability. So here is who needs McLaughlin.

Orlando Magic

Even if the Magic grab Trae Young at number six, they still will need more guard help. Orlando has lacked ball handlers who can shoot and create their own shot for years. A flood of talent at the position would be far from a bad thing.

Young could also play alongside McLaughlin and shoot off-ball, giving them some versatility in their backcourt. Orlando already has plenty of long contracts, while also up against a tight cap. Two guards at a bargain price could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Detroit Pistons

New head coach Dwane Casey is a fantastic molder of young talent, which is precisely what this team lacks around star forward Blake Griffin.

Getting Griffin and the Pistons a guard like McLaughlin, who can get the ball to him or Andre Drummond. Because of the pair of max deals already on the books, a cheap guard would be perfect for the Pistons.

Denver Nuggets

Starting shooting guard Will Barton and second string point guard Devin Harris are both free agents this season. Denver is behind the eight ball in the cap, already six million over headed into the summer.

They also are hampered by the need to extend star center Nikola Jokic, while also filling in the gaps in the roster (two forwards will also be hitting free agency).

If the Nuggets can spend picks 14, 43 and 58 on wing talent, scooping up McLaughlin as an undrafted free agent, the Nuggets can stopgap the talent depletion with fresh legs out of college. McLaughlin will also provide them with another ball handler and creator, something the Nuggets already required more of going into last season.

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