The new approach from McDermott

The new approach from McDermott

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.

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  • McD was forced to play as a spot up shooter and was not allowed to get closed to the rim with Thibs. With Hoibert, he will have the freedom to explore other skills he was good at in college. I have no issues with his offense and I know he will get back his 3 pointer up to the upper 30% or close to 40% by the end of the season. My main concern is also with his ability to stay in front of guys on defense. To me, he has been a defense liability even a the summer league level. So, Doug needs to learn the defense fundamentals and become at least an average team defender to stay on the floor. If Doug can be a defender like Dunlevey, he will have a bright future.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I agree with you, and would like to add another thing McD must learn.

    The mental part. In summer league he KNOWS hes gonna get starter minutes. Today, 26 shots. If he starts for the Bulls, way less. If he is a rotation sub, even less.

    Today, he could make up for 3 or 4 bad shots, by taking 3 or 4 more later in the game.

    Not gonna happen when the regular season starts. Its gonna be a whole new and different mindset, again.

    He's gotta learn to be a contributer, on a season long basis first. Steady as she goes, always building..,always working to Improve, get a little better. Small, yet steady steps.

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    In reply to rakmessiah:

    Well said. Doug won't be the volume scorer he was in college, or in Summer League. Maybe more PT will help, but Doug isn't very aggressive on offense while playing with the Bulls vets.

  • Still not liking what I see from McDermott. He just does not seem atheltic enough to play in real NBA games. He even seems to struggle athletically in the Summer League.

    On the plus side, it's nice NOT to see a head coach standing all game yelling "ICE".

  • Maybe it's because there has been a lot of McD talk lately, but I find myself wondering why so many people are so hung up on "athleticism" lately.

    Mort made an excellent comparison of McDoug with Antawn Jamison, one of the dozens and dozens of NBA All-Stars who weren't close to being world-class athletes.

    Basketball is still (always has been, always will be) a game of skill, not a track meet. Give me a guy with elite skills and poor athleticsm over a guy with poor skills and elite athleticism 100 times out of 100.

    Tyrus was an elite athlete, but I don't think any of us would take him over Niko?

    Even defense isn't about athleticism, it's about anticipation, moving your feet and being smart and knowing how to be in the proper position to play effective team defense. Shot-blocking has nothing to do with who jumps the highest, it's all about timing and knowing your opponent.

    I see the same thing with Bairstow - no he's not quick or fast, and he can't jump high - but neither can Matt Bonner, and he's been in the league for 10+ years and has a few rings because he has an elite skill. I'm not saying CB will ever be as good as Bonner, but if he can continue to knock down 3's, he'll be in the league for a long time.

    Wes Unseld could barely get off the floor, but he's the only rookie MVP in league history. How slow and unathletic was Larry Bird?

    Finally, Marquis Teague is an unbelievable athlete.........

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    The problem is Doug hasn't shown any elite skills to compete at the NBA level. To be honest even his basic skills look sloppy in summer league. It's all directly tied to his athletism. Nobody is expecting Doug to be an athlete but what people want to see is he strong enough to hold his ground on defense, can he be quick enough to catch his man off the dribble, can he even shoot a three pointer on NBA forwards? Its not so much to do with athletism as it is having an NBA body. Larry Bird at least had a height advantage and the same for Dirk Novitksi. Even these guys are a lot tougher than they look. With McDNP I have no idea what position he's going to play. People thinking he can play guard have lost their minds. He's too little and weak to play power forward in the NBA. He'll get posted every single time. The only logical position for him is small forward but so far he's too fat and slow. So maybe some more conditioning would do him justice. I still say he's built more for the MLB but I'm rooting for him nevertheless.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Matt Bonner is an elite three point shooter. Doug McDermott is a college scorer who is shooting a mediocre percentage in Summer League against poor defenses and most his shots are coming inside. Doug is labeled a shooter but doesn't have the elite skills of a Bonner or Korver to be a niche player at the NBA level. I don't think he has a role or a future at this level. Ask Adam Morrison how a slow college volume scorer fairs at SF in the NBA.

    Even if he did turn out to be a Korver or Bonner type its still a lot of investment (3 picks) for such a low upside niche role player. I'm still booing the pick a year later and fully expect to be doing the same next year.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I think what people are saying is that McD doesn't even appear to have the absolute minimum level of athleticism to allow him to stay on the court with the average/typical NBA player. I'd venture to say that Jamison's athleticism entering the league was vastly superior to what we've seen from McD. Maybe McD's athleticism compares to Jamison's right now, when he is out of the league, I think.

    I don't think that it is even something that you can measure, it's just something that you can see when he plays against the average/typical NBA athlete. He mostly looks like he has the athleticism of a really bad WhiteEuroStiff 7 footer, which is pretty bad for a guy who has to make his living as a SF or more likely a SG.

    Pretty much everyone, in every sport talks about how big a leap it is when going from college to the Pro's just in terms of the caliber of the athletes, before you even take talent into account. This seems to be most noteable in football and basketball.

    I think that's why so many guys who lead the nation in scoring at the NCAA level never amount to anything in the NBA. They have enough athletic ability to allow them to dominate with their skillset in college, but don't have even the minimum athleticism to allow that skillset to transfer to the pro's.

    While I'm certainly still rooting for McD, willing to write off last season, and give him a clean slate going into this season, it feels more like irrational hope than any realistic expectation.

    I do however, still think that he does have an elite skill, a beautiful and pure shooting stroke with range, even if he hasn't been able to display it with any consistency. That's what gives us some hope.

  • If the role is to be part of the bench group and help provide some scoring along with Brooks and Mirotic, he should be fine and excel in that role. I think what the negative vibe is that Bulls fans expected a starter from a lottery pick and he's more bench rotational player at this point. He's shown enough that he belongs in the rotation. The Bulls have to find out what they have in McDermott, Snell and Mirotic and that means playing them consistently. No entitlement minutes for burned out vets or overplaying vets and running them into the ground. I hope to see a fresh, more energic youthful fast paced basketball compared to the slow grind it out style we've seen over the last few years. MickeyD just needs to start knocking down some threes.

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