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This Week In the Bulls: Doug McDermott is killing the team

The numbers aren't pretty for the Bulls' second year shooter.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Is Doug McDermott trash? It's a question I'm going to need you to think long and hard about.

Heading into this season, there was a lot of excitement about McDermott -- and for good reason. The Bulls cashed in two top 20 picks to get him with the No. 11 selection in the 2014 draft, but his rookie season was essentially null and void. McDermott actually dropped 12 points in his NBA debut against the Knicks, but quickly fell out of Tom Thibodeau's rotation. Then he tore his meniscus.

To put it kindly, there was nowhere to go but up. The Bulls needed wings and they needed shooting, so there would be an opportunity under Fred Hoiberg. Hell, McDermott and Hoiberg even went to the same high school -- if anyone could unlock Doug's game, Hoiberg seemed to be the guy.

The early returns for Doug Year II have been ... mixed up to this point. I guess let's start with the good first.

Doug McDermott is shooting the shit out of the ball so far, and that's great (especially after he finished his rookie year as a 31 percent three-point shooter). Entering Friday's game against the Hornets, McDermott is 19-of-33 on threes, good for an incredible 57.6 percent clip that ranks fourth overall in the NBA. His 19 made threes rank No. 13 in the league. He's the biggest reason why the Bulls are actually a very good shooting team this year. All of that is wonderful.

The problem is that Doug McDermott isn't just a poor defender, he's a downright liability to have on the floor. The stats back this up.

Despite the fact that it seems like McDermott is contributing on the surface level, a deeper dive into the numbers shows he's actually killing the Bulls. McDermott has a -16.1 net rating, which is the worst on the team by a mile. Derrick Rose has the second worst net rating on the team ... at -2.8. There's an ocean between those two numbers.

To put it bluntly, the Bulls' defense falls off a cliff when Doug is in the game. With Doug on the bench, the Bulls' defensive rating as a team is 88.8, which would be the best in the NBA. When Doug's playing, the team's defensive rating balloons to 105.5. That would be the sixth worst in the NBA.

You really don't even need to look at the numbers to see what an abomination Doug is on D. Just watch the games.

He just has no concept of team defense right now. If there's a switch involved, he's running around like a chicken with its head cut off.


When he tries to recover to close out on a shooter, he just doesn't have the foot speed to get there. It's led to a lot of wide open shots this season.


He's also clearly a target for opposing teams. When Doug got his first start of the season against the Thunder, OKC subbed in Dion Waiters for the offensively lifeless Andre Roberson pretty quickly in the first quarter. On the second possession, the Thunder isolated Waiters against McDermott on the wing, and Waiters just blew by him.


Doug was pulled immediately.

Oh yeah, he also got backdoored hard on a crucial overtime possession in the Bulls' loss to Minnesota. Even J'Marcus Webb would offer more resistance.

If you're looking for a positive, here it is: if McDermott can even make himself merely below average defensively, he could be a nice weapon for the Bulls. There's just a gulf between where he's currently at and "below average". It's going to take massive improvement just to get to kinda bad.

I'm hopeful he can get there. It's just, for a coach's son, the dude looks impossibly lost on defense so often. Perhaps the problem is that McDermott just never needed to defend NBA-caliber wings in college, which he acknowledged this week.

"The main thing is I'm really trying to get better defensively in practice," he said. "It's been tough. They call me for a lot of fouls. I guarded a lot of (power forwards) in college. I'm guarding (small forwards) who are athletic here. I'm going to have to figure it out if I want to stay on the floor."

All of this has me wondering: is Doug's future in this league as a four and not a three? He needs to play the three this year because of the Bulls' front court depth and lack of wings. But with Joakim Noah facing free agency and Pau Gasol likely to opt-out of his deal after this season, the Bulls' front court could get thin really quick.

Maybe Doug would have a chance to survive defensively against fours. I don't know. It might be worth investigating, because he's a disaster against wings right now.

Pau can bowl

Here's something I often wonder: is there literally anything in the world I would be better than Pau Gasol at? The man dominates ping-pong, bowling ... and if he wasn't a Hall of Fame NBA player, he would have been a doctor.

Pau Gasol: making others feel incompetent since 1980.

Jimmy is living the life

The reason you pass on $40 million to make $95 million is so you can do cool shit like buy a 6,000-pound boombox aquarium and not feel even the least bit guilty about it. Jimmy seems like he's living his best life.

The Booz News

I really thought we'd have nothing for the Booz News this week. As a last ditch effort, I searched "Carlos Boozer" on Twitter. I was rewarded with this:

This has been The Booz News.