Bulls' Doug McDermott needs to get 'creative' in the post

Bulls' Doug McDermott needs to get 'creative' in the post
July 14, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Mark Strotman

Shooting from the perimeter for Doug McDermott is as easy as catching and shooting, as he displayed last night in Las Vegas. The Bulls' first-round pick last month went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 31 points in the Bulls' 103-76 win over the Nuggets on Sunday.

But McDermott will be the first to try and convince you he's more than a shooter. The rookie was aggressive, getting to the free throw line 12 times, looked more comfortable defensively than he did in his debut Saturday and even saw time in the post, where he connected on a face-up jumper in the first half.

That last part - his time in the post - is where the Creighton All-American made his living a year ago in the Big East. According to Synergy Sports, nearly 25 percent of McDermott's offensive possessions came in the post. And in those 190 possessions, McDermott shot nearly 50 percent and averaged 1.026 points per possession, good for the 88th percentile nationally.

But the 6-foot-8 McDermott won't have as easy a time getting to the basket from the post as he did at Creighton. It's no longer Marquette's best defender or help defense from Georgetown's center; it's Chandler Parsons, Paul George or Josh Smith defending, with Serge Ibaka, Larry Sanders or DeAndre Jordan coming weak side to help.

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At least through two summer-league games, that's meant less post-ups and more outside looks, which is to be expected. At Creighton the offense ran through McDermott, whereas in Chicago he'll be asked to find open spots, come off screens and succeed off catch-and-shoot attempts. At some point, though, McDermott would like to increase his time in the post.

"It's much more physical in the NBA, so I'm going to have to be more creative with how I get position," he said, "and I think coming off screens initially is what's going to help me the most."

Assuming the majority of his post possessions will result in face-up jumpers - like they did Sunday - rather than inside post moves or drives to the basket, Synergy numbers show that McDermott shot 44 percent on 49 jumpers while in the post (of the 190 possessions). Those numbers were still better than the NCAA average and on-par with his season numbers for jump shots from anywhere on the court (43.8 percent). McDermott, at 6-foot-8, should have an easy time getting his shot off against opponents his own size - his quick release will be a big reason why.

Still, McDermott admits he wants to be as versatile as possible, which could include more post moves and aggressiveness toward the basket in those situations, especially if his uncanny ability to move without the ball creates mismatches down low.

"I think if I can set some ball screens and get smaller guards on me," he noted, "that's when it'll allow me to post up."

Regardless of where he's shooting from, two games in McDermott is proving the ball's going in the hoop more often than not.