Doug McDermott has spent the last four seasons blitzing college basketball with a barrage of threes and soft righty finishes near the rim. For McDermott's next act, he'll be taking his talents to Denver.
The Nuggets selected McDermott with the No. 11 selection in Thursday's 2014 NBA draft, once and for all proving that the Creighton star's decision to return for his senior season was correct.
Shortly after he was drafted, McDermott was traded to the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reported on another piece of the trade:
McDermott also commented on his pending move to the Bulls on his Twitter account:
After an All-American junior campaign, many expected McDermott to declare. He was graded as a mid-to-late first-round draft choice. With perhaps the most heralded freshman class in college basketball history coming in 2013, it looked like the opportune time. Instead, McDermott returned to school with an improved all-around game and redefined a season that was supposed to be dominated by youngsters.
McDermott averaged a Division I-high 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on 52.6 percent shooting. He had the second-highest offensive rating in college basketball, per Ken Pomeroy (subscription required), and became the consensus National Player of the Year winner.
Creighton was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but McDermott left as one of the most decorated players in college basketball history. He is the first three-time consensus first-team All-American since Patrick Ewing and the late Wayman Tisdale in 1985. He also went flying up draft boards, moving into lottery consideration by the end of the season.
The predraft process was largely middling. McDermott impressed with a better-than-expected 36.5-inch vertical leap and had a very nice lane agility drill. That did a good deal to alter the misconception that he's an entirely unathletic player. But McDermott also measured under 6'8" in shoes—a critical disappointment for teams hoping he could play power forward.
“You know, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder, and if you think you can envision a role for him, then you would use a lottery pick on him, because he has so much talent,” one team executive told Sporting News' Sean Deveney. “But those numbers were not good. They were potentially disastrous. You really wanted to be able to play him at the 4 some, you know, to fake it in some small lineups. I don’t think you can even do that.”
McDermott played almost his entire college career at the 4, which makes the concerns valid. Much of his effectiveness beyond three-point shooting came in the post. The post was by far McDermott's most used area on the floor, with 24.7 percent of his possessions ending in a shot attempt, foul or turnover coming from there, per Synergy Sports (subscription required).
Those post-ups will almost be entirely eliminated at the next level. McDermott is not big enough or strong enough to finish over NBA defenders, though he might get a few looks here and there on switches. Last season, McDermott took 57 more threes than he had in any previous season—perhaps an acknowledgement of the upcoming adjustment.
“I’m mentally preparing myself because it’s not gonna be the same as it was in college,” McDermott told reporters at the combine. “I have to adjust to a different role. Just whatever it takes for the team to win.”
Depending on who is speaking, McDermott or Michigan's Nik Stauskas is the best shooter in this draft. McDermott drained 43.8 percent of his jumpers last season for an insane adjusted field-goal percentage of 60.5, per Synergy.
Those worried about McDermott's draft status are not so much concerned with his translation as they are where he's being drafted. Few argue there won't be a rotation spot available for McDermott at the next level. Teams are emphasizing spacing more than ever, and having someone like McDermott to stash on the wing or in the corner is a major boon. Chicago's offense should immediately be better whenever he's on the court—perhaps as soon as next season. With Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and an already solid Bulls roster still in place, McDermott should prove to be a solid contributor as Chicago looks to take their team to next level.
McDermott will have to be a better defender to stay on the floor. No one expects him to be a stopper, but opponents destroyed him in the post and on pick-and-rolls all last season. He'll have to take lessons from fellow former Creighton star Kyle Korver and commit himself to team defense. Korver is average on the ball, but he's carved a solid two-way niche by knowing where to go and executing correct rotations.
McDermott is a heady player and played for his father at Creighton. If anyone has the basketball IQ to atone for his shortcomings, it should be him. Given the lessened offensive responsibilities, there's little excuse for McDermott to not step up defensively.
If he does, those who doubted McDermott will be proven wrong. Again.
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