Daequan Cook is by no means a household name. To be honest, it would to find many casual fans who can even correctly pronounce his name. Regardless of the pronunciations, Daequan Cook is the newest addition to the Chicago Bulls, and he's made it clear that he's here to play.
No one should be sarcastically thinking, "whoop-de-do."
Of course, he will never be the second coming of the savior whose injury still haunts us, but there is a reasonable chance that Cook isn't just some player the Bulls are using to fill a roster spot as a place-holding seat warmer for future free-agent classes.
Much like the way Kyle Korver and the rest of the Bench Mob sparked rallies and tore the roof off the Madhouse on Madison the past couple seasons, if given the opportunity, Cook has the ability to follow in his predecessors' footsteps in certain roles: three-pointers, hard-nosed defense, an inexpensive contract and a willingness to bring the energy to do the dirty work.
This can be possible if—and only if—Coach Thibodeau graces him with generous minutes.
Daequan Can Cook a Three Piece Meal
In this age where specialists are all the rage and seem to be a necessary evil, the three-point shooter is a virtual "must." Almost like a closer in baseball or a punt returner in football, these aerial attackers can change the course of the game with a well-delivered, sizzling shot.
Cook is no foreigner to the area beyond the painted arc. The 2009 NBA 3-Point Shootout champion has a career 37.4 percent accuracy (including a blistering a 42.2 percent in 2011), which is above the current team average of 34.7 percent. It may not seem like an eye-popping difference at first, but considering that Cook sees action for only about a quarter of each game (and that during blowouts, if at all), it is clear that he has never had many chances to explore the depths of shooting through the flow of an entire game, since he was expected to be instantly 'hot.'
As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, the team had so much faith in Cook that, even with a squad surrounded by shooters such as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, Cook was given a green light and attempted more treys than Westbrook and only slightly fewer than Harden (less than 1 per game). While his percentage was not as great as the other superstars, it can be explained by the acquisition of Derek Fisher, who was brought in to provide the young Thunder with veteran leadership.
Cooking Fish in OKC
The opportunity cost of Derek Fisher was Daequan Cook. After Thabo Sefolosha went down with an injury, Cook was asked to step up and fill the void. Up to that point, his game had been thriving, based on coming off screens or pick-and-rolls with Harden, Eric Maynor and Nick Collison.
Cook's numbers immediately spiked, his PPG nearly doubled and his rebounds jumped. Yet what surprised everyone was the effective defense he was able to display.
Unfortunately, sometimes life is all about timing.
So when Maynor was taken out for the year and Fisher brought in, the switch ate into Cook's minutes, and his numbers and confidence plummeted with them.
What Can Cook Serve Up for the Bulls?
That does not mean things will be the same in the Windy City.
Yes, Cook will always be a player that needs to play off others. If he were capable of generating his own shots and driving to the hoop at will, the Houston Rockets would not have released him.
So how do the Chicago Bulls best utilize their second-hand re-gift's talents?
Forgetting about on-court actions for a moment, one thing is certain: Cook's signing at a prorated veteran's minimum salary (as opposed to his original contract, which had $3,090,942 to be paid this year) keeps the Bulls under the $74.31 million salary cap. That is a great bonus for a team that is looking to keep several short, cheap contracts for the time being.
It is an attractive proposition for the notoriously thrifty management, and the signing could also be an omen that Richard Hamilton is on his way out, with this being the last year of his two-year, $10 million deal.
Cook will also fit well into the system of Thibodeau, since he is an above-average defender and capable rebounder.
Additionally, the 25-year-old brings NBA Finals experience (albeit a minimal amount), has familiarity with former teammates such as Nate Robinson and, above all, is showing a positive attitude about his new abode.
In Sunday's Chicago Tribune, Cook stated, "If I get the opportunity to play, I'm going to play my heart out. I feel it's a good opportunity for me. It's a very exciting, young team that plays well together. The most important thing is to play my role and do whatever Coach asks."
Cook's game will rely on players such as Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah deftly passing the ball out of the post. One possible reason his stint did not work well in Houston was because the Rockets could not employ the tactics Durant and Serge Ibaka engaged in during his time with the Thunder; the Rockets used their big men primarily for pick-and-rolls.
The fate of Daequan Cook and the three-point barrage he rains down upon opponents rests primarily in the hands of those three men, but if they do enough down low to consistently warrant attention, a quick pass to the weak side will be an added ingredient to the recipe for the Bulls' success.
Of course, this could all change once our MVP comes back. But by then, you just may want to kiss the chef.
I mean, cook.