Quick Bulls Thought: The Power of Doug

When the Bulls cashed in all their chips on draft night to snag Creighton forward Doug McDermott, I was not a fan. For years I have dreamt about that Charlotte pick from the Tyrus Heist turning into a top three pick, or becoming an asset in a trade to snag a superstar. Doug McDermott is not what I had in mind.

The Bulls gave up a lot more than just that pick for McDermott, packaging it with our own first rounders (and some second rounders in a subsequent trade to unload Anthony Randolph’s horrible contract, but let’s not nitpick here) in a deal with the Nuggets. Those two picks became Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic, players who may not be able to make a huge impact as rookies (although I’m kind of bullish on Nurkic long term, especially considering Noah is nearing 30 and is dragging around a bum knee).

The Bulls understand that the core they have assembled currently is good enough to win the title, and that this is not an opportunity to be squandered. A quick look at how Oklahoma City has handled the last two offseasons is a prime example of an organization not understanding that championship cores do not last forever.

The Bulls made several “win now” moves this summer, most notably signing Pau Gasol and (less notably) bringing over Nikola Mirotic from Spain. The McDermott pick falls right in with that line of thinking.  The Bulls sensed that McDermott’s skill set is NBA ready and pounced on the opportunity to add him to a squad badly in need of an outside threat.

And an outside threat McDermott is! Doug tore up the Vegas Summer League, averaging 18 points a game on 44% three point shooting. While those numbers came against guys who are mostly headed for Europe or the D-League, that slick shooting stroke will translate at just about any level of competition.

Through seven preseason games, McDermott has averaged a modest 8.3 points per game on just 33% shooting from deep. But even when his shot isn’t falling, McDermott’s effect on the court will be felt by all.

McDermott enters the league with a fairly high profile considering he went 11th in the draft. He won the 2014 Naismith college player of the year, raining threes upon the nation at Creighton. With the amount of notoriety McDermott is entering the league with, there’s no chance he gets left off any teams’ scouting report this season.

And that’s the beauty of this whole operation. McDermott figures to struggle right out of the gate, as almost every rookie does. The game is faster, the players are more skilled, and the daily grind is something no college player can understand. But even so, opposing defenses will always be peeping him out of the corner of their eye.

The added distraction of a known and respected shooter could have massive impacts on the rest of the offense. Imagine a high pick and roll between Derrick and Noah. All five defenders have their attention locked on to the two man action, ready to crash the paint and rotate as necessary to deter Rose from doing things that will get them on YouTube.

But now imagine that same scenario with McDermott on the floor. Imagine Doug flying around baseline screens and whipping into open space. Or just imagine him chilling in the corner with his hand up.

McDermott’s presence will throw off the standard pick and roll defensive opperating procedure. Not every defender will be able to lock onto the action at the top of the key. The man normally in charge of rotating into the lane to deter a drive will have to think twice before abandoning McDermott in the corner.

This is the power of Doug. McDermott, hopefully, will have a long and successful career in Chicago. His shooting, along with his underrated ability to put the ball on the floor, make him a prime asset in today’s NBA. But even if he struggles out of the gate, McDermott doesn’t necessarily need to score to make an impact. The mere threat that he poses beyond the arc will have an unquantifiable impact on Rose and Company. Get excited.

 

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