Last season, the Chicago Bulls finished dead last in the NBA in total points (7680), shots made (2843) and field goal percentage (43.2%). It’s safe to say that the Bulls needed to add scorers this summer through the draft and/or free agency. The Bulls addressed their scoring needs in a big way, trading up to the 11th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Eleventh overall pick Doug “McBuckets” McDermott is one of college basketball’s all-time greatest scorers. During his college career at Creighton, McDermott accumulated 3,150 points, making him the fifth highest scoring player in Division I history. Even more impressive is the way he accomplished this feat. Over his four years at Creighton, he shot an astonishing 55% from the field and 45% from behind the arc. Considering he was considered the primary scoring option for the Blue Jays for three straight seasons by both his team and its opponents, his efficiency is even more impressive.
McDermott is not only a proficient scorer from 20 feet and beyond, but also from the low block. Even though he does not have the optimal size of a true power forward, 25 percent of his total made baskets were scored on the block. McDermott has a well-rounded scoring arsenal that will surely land him playing time in his rookie season.
But the big question for teams and scouts going into the draft was how the rest of his game would translate to the NBA. McDermott does not have anything close to elite level size or athleticism. He struggled against bigger (NBA size) defenders throughout his college career due to his size and reach disadvantage. He is a scrappy player but still needs to add strength and size to his 6’8” frame to be able to compete defensively (another area of his game with needed improvement).
Although McDermott may not be the “typical” mold of a player that coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls usually go after, he is a perfect fit in Chicago. His shooting stroke, efficiency, high basketball IQ and movement without the basketball will make him a viable bench option for Thibodeau to use on a nightly basis. As far as the defense goes, coach Thibodeau has worked bigger miracles before (ex: Kyle Korver), so I have faith that McDermott will improve drastically in that area over the next 12-18 months.
The Bulls will be able to use McDermott in multiple ways this season. Coming into the NBA, most consider McDermott to be a wing player at the “3” position. His size for a wing player is optimal, and his quickness and first step are good enough for him to be an effective player off the dribble. However, with many teams shifting to or using some type of “small-ball” lineup, McDermott could see extended minutes behind Taj Gibson as a stretch-4 type player for the Bulls, which in these situations would benefit Chicago on both ends of the court.
The Bulls now have the ability to match up more efficiently on these stretch type of players. Last season, it was rare to see Joakim Noah/Carlos Boozer/Gibson defending near the three-point line unless it was to close out on a shooter. With McDermott on the floor, he should be able to defend most stretch-fours while still being an efficient threat on the offensive end.
The situations and roster combinations with McDermott and potentially Nikola Mirotic are numerous. The potential flexibility of this roster that was so depleted and spread thin last season is tremendous. Regardless of whom the team signs to start on the wing, this Bulls team will look much like the 2010-2012 Chicago teams — star power with an unbelievable bench.
McDermott was the consensus NCAA National Player of the Year in 2014, averaging over 26.7 points per game and becoming one of only three players in NCAA history to eclipse the 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds mark. McDermott, along with fellow rookies Cameron Bairstow and Brandon Paul, will be making their NBA Summer League debut on July 12th in Las Vegas.