It’s the dark and dreary days of the off-season for basketball fans, and those of us who love the beautiful game are left with little to do but fantasize about how the coming season will shape up.
Luckily for Bulls fans, what looked to be another disappointing offseason with the front office’s failure to land big name free agents Lebron James (not that this was EVER a possibility) or Carmelo Anthony has been given a shot of adrenaline. That shot’s name is Doug McDermott, the 6’8 small forward out of Creighton, acquired by the Bulls in a draft night trade with the Denver Nuggets.
Anyone who watched McDermott at Creighton knew that he had a sweet stroke, but its doubtful that anyone really expected him to take the summer league by storm quite the way he has. In leading the Summer League Bulls to the top seed in the playoffs, McDermott is averaging 20.5 points per game and shooting an absolutely ridiculous 50% from three-point range. In the past, the Bulls have suffered from a dearth of conscience-less gunners, players willing to take the shot, even when contested. Too often the ball spun around the perimeter, made its way inside, and then back out again, with precious seconds ticking off the shot clock before a last-second hoist was sent up with a prayer. McDermott will quickly correct this problem, as he seems to meet few shots he doesn’t like. And why should he? They’re going in at an absurd rate.
If you’re worried that Dougie McBuckets is no more than a selfish shooter, always looking to get his own numbers, you can put those fears to rest. In interviews during summer league play, McDermott has talked up the unselfish nature of his group of teammates, and the result has been visible in the way that he is already developing a thriving partnership with second-year player Tony Snell.
McDermott’s assists are up from his time in college, where he averaged 1.2 per game in his final season. He is averaging 2.5 per game in the summer league, though his turnover numbers are up as well, from 2.2 to 3 per game. This is due in large part to his willingness to find his teammates slashing to the interior, where he has demonstated impressive court vision on bounce passes, but also in his ability to recognize when defenses are keying in on him and finding the open shooter, namely Snell.
Snell is among the rarest of rookies, those who actually get a decent amount of playing time under Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The rangy wing’s work ethic, growing understanding of Chicago’s demanding defensive schemes, and ability to stroke it from range earned him repeated chances to let his spot on the bench get a cool-down. Seeing the chemistry he and McDermott are already displaying should be a source of optimism for those who hope that this year’s Bulls bench is capable of producing at a high level, lessening the obscene number of minutes Thibs has foisted on his starters in years past.
McDermott is often compared to Kyle Korver, which is understandable when one sees the shared Creighton origins and sweet outside shots. Where the comparison falls about, though, is the rest of the shooting game, and that’s where McDermott provides something that Korver could not, which is a constant demand for the defense to stick with him. During Korver’s two seasons in Chicago, it was not uncommon to see defenses leave him alone in the corner while they collapsed the lane, waiting to close out on him if the ball somehow managed to come his way. McDermott is able to manufacture his shot to a much greater extent than Korver, and shoots efficiently from just about everywhere on the floor, which means that his defender will always have to stay on him.
In short, the player of many nicknames (Dougie McBuckets, Dougie Fresh, Murderbot) has all the tools he needs to succeed offensively in Chicago. While he will likely take some time to fully grasp the intricacies of the defensive schemes, his ability to knock down long-range shots at a high rate will give him unparalleled value to a team sorely in need of instant offense. Look for him to come off the bench in a big way for Chicago this season, and expect Stacy King to have a lot of fun calling the games. Large McBuckets with Hot Sauce, Neil!!!