On Tuesday night, the Long Island Nets stamped their ticket to their first ever G League Finals as they beat the Lakeland Magic in a dramatic 108-106 victory that went into overtime. That game-clinching moment came at the hands of Nets two-way player Theo Pinson, who nailed a jaw-dropping 3 with just .6 seconds left on the shot clock which inevitably pushed the team to victory.
While a singular jumper from Pinson was the biggest cause behind Long Island’s win, there were obviously other factors behind their success against Lakeland. One of the other elements behind that win was the play of former USC guard Jordan McLaughlin. In 33 minutes, he put up 16 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals on 5-8 from the field, 4-6 from 3 and 2-2 from the free throw line.
As folks that had the opportunity to watch Long Island during the regular season would know, these types of performances were pretty commonplace for McLaughlin. Because in his first year in the G League, he stood out as one of the more versatile guards in the league with his ability to affect games in a variety of ways.
That fact is showcased by how he average 15 points, 5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals on 42% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc on 6.1 attempts per game. While that three-point percentage seems low, it honestly doesn’t tell the whole story as that’s an area where the Nets guard’s shooting progressed as the season went on. From the start of the season until December 31st, he only shot 31% from beyond the arc. However, that percentage spiked by five percentage points as he shot 36% from January 1st to the end of the regular season.
His progression as a perimeter shooter has ultimately pushed the Nets to be a total package as a player. The praise surrounding McLaughlin’s versatile nature isn’t just an observation from a G League writer, as McLaughlin’s own head coach Will Weaver basically echoed that statement in a recent interview he did with this site. “Jordan is clearly a NBA talent, and, maybe even more importantly, a top-tier professional. That’s something that’s remarkable given his age and the fact this is his rookie year, but what doesn’t he do?” the Nets coach stated in a March interview with Ridiculous Upside.
“He shoots, he penetrates, he’s a heck of a passer, and he reads the game and knows what’s going on better than most, including me most nights. He is someone that I think we’ve been lucky to keep on our roster all year long,” explained Weaver while talking about the rookie guard.
As Weaver alluded to, McLaughlin is also able to shine as a facilitator and on-ball driver. That first trait is evident as he averaged 4.6 assists per game with a fantastic 2.7 Ast/TO ratio. Along ookie guards that played at least 15 guards in the league, the Nets prospect stood as the fourth most efficient facilitator. A lot of those assists came when the guard was moving with the ball in his hands, whether that came from guiding the ball to a pick-and-roll partner or slinging the rock to a teammate waiting on the perimeter.
McLaughlin’s ability to move with the ball in his hands has allowed him to shine as a driver. Whether the ball’s in his left or right hand, the Nets guard has shown an ability to both get to the paint and be able to finish at the rim. However, McLaughlin does seem to prefer working with with the left hand as he likes to finish with a fancy underhanded scoop at the side of the rim. That plan has worked as he shot a pretty solid 58% from within the restricted area during the regular season.
While the trifecta of Alan Williams, Theo Pinson and Dzanan Musa have done an amazing job of leading the team during the regular season and playoffs, McLaughlin has stood as an important player. That’s due to how the Nets have been able to rely upon him in a various ways from providing great defense, making the key pass, hitting the occasional 3 or being able to use his quickness to be able to finish at the rim if the team needs a big bucket.
All of those traits should allow McLaughlin to be a key player for the Long Island Nets as they look defeat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and win their first ever G League title.