The persona of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau revolves around a voice that could crack glass, his strong-side defensive principles, which helped the 2008 Celtics win a title, and his curmudgeonly insistence his players give their all every night during the regular season (sometimes over-extending them in the process). He is not one to offer up praise willy-nilly, which is why his recent comments to Nick Fridiell of ESPN Chicago about the “swag” in rookie Doug McDermott cannot be overlooked.
McDermott was just 3-for-12 last night against Detroit in their preseason loss. He was 1-for-6 from deep, too, not exactly swag-worthy. But Thibodeau told Friedelll after the game Tuesday night, “He’s got a lot of confidence.”
“I know where confidence comes from,” Thibodeau continued. “Work and preparation. What do we call it now? Swag. We called it confidence back in the day. Where does it come from? People say, ‘Well, he’s a real confident guy.’ The thing that you find is that the guys that put the work in, that gives you confidence. Each game is a test. It reveals exactly where you are. In this league, you can’t skip steps.
“There’s a lot of different ways I think you’re seeing teams do it. The teams that win consistently, they put the work into it and they don’t skip steps.”
That’s high praise from Thibs, especially for a rookie who didn’t shoot particularly well while scoring 11 points and grabbing eight rebounds in his second career NBA preseason game. McBuckets was a tad better from the field in Chicago’s ill-tempered preseason opener against the Wizards.
But it was what McDermott said when asked what he needs to work on that probably allows Thibodeau to at least feign a smile.
“I’d say just totally understanding the defensive principles,” McDermott said. “That’s the main thing coming in, just because it’s a whole different game now. For a guy like me, to adjust to certain tendencies that a coach wants us to do. Closeouts, being able to communicate with people, I think that’s probably where I’ve come the furthest.”
After missing his first two three-point attempts in Tuesday night’s 111-109 overtime loss to the Pistons, McBuckets finally found the bottom of the nylon:
The swag meant he’d keep shooting, even though he missed his final three 3-point attempts including a pair of them in the fourth quarter. He also rattled home a layup in the overtime session, never forgetting his swag. For McDermott, playing for Thibodeau is a privilege few other rookies are afforded, something he highlighted after Tuesday night’s overtime session that had Thibodeau looking particularly aggrieved through 53 minutes of preseason action.
“Who wouldn’t want to play for a guy like that?” McDermott said. “A guy that really, truly cares about winning no matter what the circumstances are. I think it’s great for a rookie to come into a situation like this, because there’s no days off now. We’re trying to win a championship. So we need to bring that championship mentality no matter what the circumstances are.”
Is McDermott swaggy?
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