Injuries have been the storyline once more for the Chicago Bulls, the seemingly never ending nightmare. As a result it’s forced head coach Tom Thibodeau to thrust rookie Doug McDermott into the rotation for the time being. It’s been roughly five months since McDermott has seen consistent time on the floor, due to his December meniscus surgery. Nevertheless here we are, as McDermott has been granted an opportunity through the various injuries and ailments plaguing the Bulls.
In the four games that McDermott has seen regular minutes, he’s averaging just over 12.5 minutes per game. During this current stretch, he’s shooting 9-30 from the field, and only 1-5 from long range. Those numbers are nothing to be pleased about, at all. The first two games McDermott went 0-5 and 0-3, generally looking like a typical rookie. For the most part, these two games was McDermott getting his feet wet, which have been dry for the better half of the season.
Friday night against the Indiana Pacers saw a resurgence from McDermott, who apparently ate his Wheaties beforehand. McDermott scored a career high 16 points, 12 of which came in the second quarter alone, going 8-17 overall. Sunday afternoon in San Antonio McDermott regressed back to the mean, only shooting 1-5, ending with three points. Even though his statistical performance was poor, McDermott’s activity level was a plus, which is what you want to see from him.
Moving forward, there are plays from the last two games that we can analyze, where McDermott made some good plays, and ones where he can improve upon.
Something that you’ll notice in the videos to follow, and if you’ve paid attention the past two games, the Bulls have heavily incorporated the dribble handoff with McDermott and Joakim Noah. These have consisted of McDermott starting on the left wing, which gets him going to his right.
Friday against the Pacers, McDermott and Noah perfectly executed the dribble handoff.
McDermott comes off the handoff, which in this case was more of a pitch, and takes a hesitation dribble, viewing where his defender is at and where Noah’s defender is helping. Damjan Rudez gets caught fighting over the screen from Noah, and Ian Mahinmi sags back into the lane. McDermott takes one more dribble to get himself into a rhythm and knocks down the jumper.
Later on in the game, McDermott comes off the same type of play, a dribble handoff from Noah.
The pick from Noah bumped Rudez just enough that it gave McDermott the needed space, and time to get the shot off. From the footwork, elevation on the shot to the release, this was arguably one of McDermott’s better looking shots of the season. And these are the types of plays that he has the potential to make on a regular basis.
That was the good from this weekend, but let’s look at a couple where McDermott can learn from. This first play against the Spurs is eerily similar to the one presented above. A dribble handoff from Noah to McDermott, in which the Spurs’ Marco Belinelli gets caught fighting over the screen. Aron Baynes, guarding the action, sags into the lane, essentially giving McDermott a wide open look at the basket.
McDermott takes one dribble and pulls up, eventually missing the shot. He made the right decision, but he rushed the shot. Taking only one dribble didn’t allow him to get into rhythm, McDermott leans in instead of going straight up leaving him with zero lift or hardly any arch on the shot.
What McDermott should’ve have done was taken at least one more dribble, Baynes was sagging so far back that he could’ve taken two if he was so inclined to. But by taking at least one more dribble it would’ve allowed him to get into a better rhythm, in turn providing him with a better opportunity to convert.
Further along in the game, McDermott finds himself in another dribble handoff with Noah.
This was a tough play for McDermott. Belinelli gets caught on the screen from Noah again, but he recovers nicely, and in time to contest McDermott’s shot which ends in an airball. In looking at this play, it’s possible that another dribble could’ve provided him with a cleaner look if not give him more options.
Spacing in this situation isn’t the best as you can see. If Nikola Mirotic moves back to the three point line it drags Kawhi Leonard with him, giving more room for McDermott to penetrate. I digress. If McDermott takes one more dribble, with Tiago Splitter sagging, and Belinelli trailing, he could get close enough to perform a floater, drop off a pass to Noah or kick it out to Mirotic if moves back to the arch. Plays like this, and the previous are ones that McDermott can easily learn from so that when he is presented with a similar situation he has a better understanding.
Doug McDermott’s play this weekend wasn’t terrible nor was it great. There were times when he showed his potential and even times that made you squint. But McDermott has been thrown into the fire after missing extended time, and having little practice or game reps. So as he continues to get opportunities with the current injuries, his performances should be taken with a grain of salt. He’s going to have his good and bad moments, but the mere fact of being on the court is what McDermott needs. What comes with it, we can only hope for positives and signs of steady improvement.
Twitter – Tyler_Pleiss