Not even 15 games into the season for the Chicago Bulls and sharpshooter Doug McDermott surpassed many of the totals from his rookie campaign. The former Creighton standout only saw the court in 33 games last year due to a minor knee procedure that derailed the start to his season. Couple that with the perception that his former coach, Tom Thibodeau, didn’t seem to trust the rookie to execute the defensive schemes the Bulls had in place, and it wasn’t the type of year many, including McDermott, envisioned.
What a difference a year makes.
‘McBuckets’ has come a long way from bringing the wrong donuts to teammates a season ago. What he has brought is the right attitude that is a succinct mix of confidence and humility endearing him to both his coach and teammates. He’s become a vital part of Fred Hoiberg’s new up tempo system by doing what he does best—shooting. He is third in three-point percentage and looks to have a secure spot in the rotation, but knows he’ll have to show more to his game than the ability to knock down the trey. He took a few minutes to discuss the start to his sophomore campaign, what’s made him a great shooter and just how good he thinks he can be.
DIME: You’ve seen a few things in a short time in the league and every team needs a leader. So, who’s the leader of the Bulls?
Doug McDermott: We have a great veteran core who have been around each other for a while. I’d say the most vocal is Joakim Noah. It’s just kind of his personality. He really gets after us and challenges us. I play a lot in the second unit and he’s become the leader of that bunch, too, but everyone has a strong voice in the locker room.
Who are you closest to on the team?
I’m pretty close with Kirk Hinrich. We are both from Iowa — we played on the same AAU team growing up even though he is 10 years older. We know a lot of the same people, and I try to stick together with him following his lead because he’s a great example for me to look up to.
What’s been the biggest difference so far for you this year compared to last? Obviously you’re healthier, but what are the other factors for you?
I’m just a lot more comfortable this year. Last year, I never really felt 100 percent. I had that knee procedure. I mean, it wasn’t a huge knee operation, but whenever you’re hurt and have to miss a significant amount of time, it’s a little harder on you mentally. Obviously, being a rookie, I was still trying to figure everything out anyway. This year feels like more of fresh start for me — new coaches and new faces to work with every day. I just feel like I’ve benefited from that the most.