The Chicago Bulls made a bold move on draft night one year ago to turn two first round picks into one and pick select Doug McDermott out of Creighton. It’s been 13 months since they’ve made that decision. A lot of things have changed with the team, including their overall happiness with the choice they made.
One tweet from Nate Duncan about McDermott not being able to guard anyone doesn’t make him a failure (McDermott, not Duncan). But there’s one season of bodywork to build a case on. And there’s what we’re seeing from him now, in Summer League, as he tries to get himself into some shooting form before the season begins.
McDermott gets kind of a pass for his disappointing rookie season. The 11th overall pick was actually two picks turned into one as the Bulls moved up the draft ladder. So far it doesn’t seem like the picks they’ve given up were a huge loss and still. The Bulls also had another rookie (albeit delayed arrival), Nikola Mirotic, who proved himself pretty useful, especially when someone in the frontcourt rotation was injured.
McDermott averaged 3 points per game in almost nine minutes a night, playing 36 games. Wasn’t ready? Tom Thibodeau didn’t like him? Didn’t know how to use him? Once again caught unaware of being able to develop young players? Or was this simply a bad pick by Gar Forman and John Paxson? Maybe a power struggle which we all know how it ended derailed McDermott’s rookie season?
As quite a few players in this league can tell, one bad season, especially the first, means nothing. McDermott is averaging 15.5 points per game in the Summer League. Not bad, but his defense continues to be atrocious, regardless of the position he’s playing in and trying to defend, and the main reason the Bulls drafted him, his outside shot, has so far been off the mark, hitting 14.3% of his attempts.
Beware of basing too much on summer league events. That’s a smart saying. But things add up. And if McDermott doesn’t prove himself very soon with a head coach that should be a lot more sensitive and aware of what works and what doesn’t on the offensive side of the ball, he’ll soon find himself struggling to do more than just get minutes on the Bulls; he’ll find it difficult to stay in the NBA.