Knicks: Inside Miles McBride’s ‘stay ready’ mentality

miles mcbride, knicks

With the game hanging in the balance, Immanuel Quickley attacked the basket but lost his balance. 

Luckily for the New York Knicks, Quickley’s pass, despite getting slightly deflected, went into the hottest hands of the night.

Knicks rookie Miles McBride drilled in his sixth three-pointer just before the shot clock buzzer to give the Knicks a five-point breather, 85-80, with 1:20 left.

Quickley and McBride scored the Knicks’ final 22 points to wrap up their second win in the NBA Summer League — a 91-82 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McBride scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, including 14 in the final quarter, in what should go down as his signature game in this year’s NBA Summer League. He was brilliant on the offensive end — a perfect six for six from deep and 7 of 9 overall while handing out five assists.

“Honestly, it’s just about staying ready so you don’t have to get ready,” McBride told Cassidy Hubbarth after the game. “I mean, the ball is gonna find me. I just have to make open shots. That’s what I do. I’ve trusted (Immanuel) Quickley to make the right reads so I’m just gonna stay ready.”

McBride’s unbridled confidence comes from preparation — a Tom Thibodeau tenet. It’s no wonder why Thibodeau reportedly pushed for him in the NBA Draft.

“Obviously, he’s a very good player. He’s putting a lot of time in the gym and it showed today,” Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto said. “You could tell he shot very well in college and he’s gonna continue to put his time in and he’s gonna continue to keep getting better. That’s who he is.”

It’s in McBride’s DNA growing up in a competitive household.

His father, Walter McBride, was a standout at Xavier in the 1980s before playing overseas basketball while his mother, Kim, lettered in tennis at Ohio State. His brother, Trey, played college ball at Northwood and is now playing overseas while his sister, Kristen, plays volleyball in West Virginia.

McBride has been killing it in the Summer League not only from the outside but also from the midrange.

Through three games, McBride is averaging 15.0 points in 26.4 minutes per game. His shooting splits of 63/62/88 have been oustanding.

“He’s gonna continue to shoot the right ones. If he’s open, I keep telling him to shoot it. If not, move it. Make the game simple. And that’s what he did today,” Yoshimoto said.

It looked simple but McBride went through a complex process trying to perfect his craft. It started at home where charity always begins.

“Honestly, my dad played back when there was no three-point line so it’s nothing but midrange. So he’s always been the guy who really taught me, just pass it down to me and my brother. A lot of time in the backyard, you know, until the street lights are coming on. We’re out there in the park, in our backyard just shooting midrange shots,” McBride revealed.

The unseen hours have made McBride confident with his shot. From the backyard, to park, to school, to film room, and the NBA court, McBride always leans on his competitive edge to learn and grow.

“It’s just about taking shots in the flow of the game. In the first game, I kinda rushed a lot of shots. I just went back to watch the film with the coaches and try to understand the game more and just find where the best shots are gonna come from. That’s what I felt I did today,” McBride said.

His shot was also inspired, in part, by his new teammate and future backcourt mentor Kemba Walker.

“He’s a killer from the midrange and I feel like that’s one of the things I’m very good at as well so, I’ve watched a lot of Kemba films,” McBride said.

He was excited when he heard the news of Walker coming home to New York even if that meant less chances for him to earn minutes on the floor in his rookie year.

“I was really excited. I mean, you got to play with guys like Kemba, Julius (Randle), Derrick Rose. Those are the guys I grew up watching. To get to be alongside them is a dream come true,” he said.

While his shot and playmaking had inspired excitement, it’s his defense that he thinks would be his ticket to playing time under Thibodeau.

“This is a league about creating opportunities. I feel like one of my strengths is defense so, that’s the best way I can create opportunities for myself,” McBride said.

McBride was equally impressive on the defensive end against the Lakers. His seven rebounds and one steal didn’t do justice to how he defended well. He picked up opposing guards full court and contested shots.

His competitive fire was lit up by nine-time All-Defensive Team and the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year Gary Payton.

“We’re definitely going through a lot of rookie transition stuff, and Gary Payton was talking like, you know, obviously, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s the best [guard] defender probably to have ever played in the league. So he was talking line nobody can pick up the full court, so I want to come out here and show him I could do that,” McBride said.

McBride is as good as advertised — the 3-and-D guard prospect that the Knicks were lucky to have stolen in the second round.

In these summer league games, the Knicks have experimented playing him off the ball alongside Quickley, and the proof is in the pudding.

“It starts with his defensive tenacity first. [Deuce] can defend multiple positions. He can play on the ball. He can play off the ball on the defensive end,” Yoshimoto said of the versatile rookie guard.

But his path to rotation minutes in the regular season is unclear.

Tony Coleman, a freelance NBA scout, has seen all the Knicks games in the Summer League, and he came away impressed with McBride. However, with the Knicks backcourt depth, he has tempered expectations on McBride breaking out in his rookie year.

“[Deuce] is very talented, athletic, good shooter from 3. He passes well, good on-ball defender. Overall, he’s well rounded and a good value pick,” Coleman told Empire Sports Media. “However, playing time is going to be another story. With Quickley, Kemba, Rose in the fold, when will Deuce get any minutes? We’ll have to see how things play out.”

With NBA returning to its 82-regular season calendar, Coleman believes McBride will carve out a role at some point especially given the health risks attached to Walker and Rose. And his Summer League play showed his versatility.

“I really like Deuce a lot. To be able to shoot the ball the way he can, he could also be used as a spot-up deep threat on the perimeter. Those moments both he and Quickley were in the games together, that particular scenario actually happened here in summer league play. Knicks have some decisions to make,” Coleman said.

McBride is showing a total package in the Summer League. He can catch and shoot, pull up, and create off the dribble. But it’s his defense that will be his calling card.

“Defensive energy, I mean, that’s where I get my offensive game going. It’s all about want. Get after guys,” McBride said.

With a body built like a tank, McBride was a double varsity until he broke his leg during his junior year in high school. He focused on basketball, but his quarterback experience had made him a better playmaker seeing the floor like the football field. On top of that vision, football also made him tough.

That’s why when he was picking where to go in college, he was drawn to West Virginia. He fell in love with coach Bob Huggins trademark “Press Virginia” — a smothering pressure defense.

“That’s one of the main reasons why I played for coach [Bob] Huggins is to play defense and learn more from him. I feel like it’s just a lot about of want — just having that mentality that I want to play to play defense, I want to stop guys from scoring instead of you know [playing like] it’s just part of the game, and I’m just out there to play,” McBride said.

For McBride, that shot clock beating three-pointer in the clutch came a long way. He was always ready to take that big shot because of his long, tedious preparation that started in their backyard. Him becoming a Knick to play behind one of his idols, Kemba Walker, to play under Thibodeau, who is as competitive and tough-minded as his father and Huggins, is a dream come true.

“Honestly, it’s been a long journey, hard work, and dedication, so, signing with the Knicks, I’m more than happy,” McBride said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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