Labeled a shooter, probably since birth, Doug McDermott is beginning to change his offensive approach under Summer League. Seeing more minutes at the four-spot than last summer, McDermott is taking the ball inside with more frequency and is finding his touch effective.
In last night's come-from-behind win against Toronto, McDermott made nine of his 11 field goals in the paint, through a variety of moves coming off fast breaks, offensive rebounds, and going hard off the dribble. His aggressiveness resulted in six free throw attempts as well, somewhat offsetting his 1-for-5 clanker from behind the arc.
McDermott is having a downright weird Summer League. He holds a decent 18.8 scoring average, which was to be expected, but he's shooting just 12.5% from downtown, and 66.7% from the line on 15 attempts. He's finding shots in a manner that resembles the way Antawn Jamison played, lurking around the basket, throwing up a combination of hooks and floaters, while also stepping outside to hit jumpers - albeit not the long-ball as previously explained.
McDermott's impressive touch around the rim has been utilized to such an extent that it's almost to be expected that Fred Hoiberg will incorporate it into his offense. After all, Hoiberg has a love for quick shots, and McDermott show not only great poise, but also great speed, at getting shots off when near the basket, something he did well in college as well, but which was a forgotten gem after he hit the league and started getting compared to Kyle Korver.
It's not all birthday parties and cakes for McDermott, though. Defensively, he's done very little to lessen the concerns about him on that end of the floor. He tries hard, but remains ineffective against longer players, which are the types of players he'll get matched up against this year, regardless of what forward position he'll play.
As for the shooting woes, this is the aspect I'm the least bit nervous about. McDermott is simply too good a shooter to not catch up in that department, and when playing alongside Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, he should get much cleaner looks than he is now. Assuming this is going to be the case, the addition of McDermott's box game becomes that much more intriguing. If defenders close out on him hard, he can fake a shot, and go to the lane to make something happen. Having the ability to not only stretch the floor, but also have teams worry about your finishing ability around the basket, is something that will force coaches to key in on such aspects, leaving lesser defensive attention elsewhere. With the weapons at the Bulls' disposal, this could come in handy.
Obviously, there is also the risk of McDermott struggling against better competition, becoming a complete defensive liability, missing long-balls, and seeing his effectiveness around the rim diminish. In that event, we're going to see more Mike Dunleavy than anyone was planning for.
Either way, the needle hasn't moved yet in terms of my expectations for McDermott from last year to this, solely based on his Summer League play. There are signs of optimism, sure, but the opposite is also true. I doubt he's going to set the league on fire, but I also doubt that he'll be a complete non-factor as some fear.