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For Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, Now's The Time

Tony Snell and Doug McDermott haven't provided the Bulls much thus far, but with a new coach and a tightening title window, Chicago will need them to take the next step in their respective careers.

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[Thanks to Tyler for today's post. This is part of an SBNationNBA Theme Day, looking at potential breakout players this coming season -yfbb]

For Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, their very young careers have been rather suboptimal, to say the least. Both have shown, more so with Snell, that they have the potential to contribute at the NBA level. However, uncomfortability within former coach Tom Thibodeau's system, and (in McDermott's case) an early season knee injury, and neither has been able to showcase such on a nightly basis.

But with Fred Hoiberg now at the helm, it leaves rooms for hope. With Hoiberg's free-flowing, up-tempo style offense, which fits ideally to their abilities, it could lead to breakout campaigns as Snell and McDermott head into their third and second years, respectively. If both are indeed able to take the presumed next step and flourish under Hoiberg's new reign, it will present the Bulls with newfound optimism for varying reasons.

Lessen the minutes burden on Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy

Since the departure of Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler has been the iron man for the Bulls. In the two years since, Butler has averaged 38.7 minutes per game in each, a testament to his increased significance to the team, but also Thibs' unfortunate willingness to ride his star players too hard. Furthermore, while not exactly the iron man Butler is, Mike Dunleavy is an integral piece for the Bulls in his own right. But at 30 minutes per game and being 35 years old, it's less than desirable.

If the Bulls can garner consistency and production from Snell and McDermott, as a result of increasing their minutes by reducing the former, it's a definite positive. Although this isn't mean to say a large reduction in minutes is needed, but by having Snell and McDermott able to pick-up five more minutes apiece at minimum, it can do wonders for Butler and Dunleavy through the wear and tear of an 82 game season.

And as we've seen over the past two years, with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, having the ability to spread minutes throughout a roster, in turn lessening the minute's burden on star players can have a profound effect on a title run. And while this wasn't a luxury for the Bulls last season, with the proper development of Snell and McDermott under Hoiberg moving forward, it can be.

Increase Lineup Flexibility, More Dynamic Offense

Having more options is never a bad thing for a first time head coach to have. If Snell and McDermott are able to plant themselves firmly in the rotation, it will provide more flexibility for Hoiberg with the lineups. Obviously, having stability and consistency with the starting five is what teams strive for. But having the ability to rotate and adjust as a means of keeping the opponent on its heels is an advantage.

Plus, it keeps Hoiberg from having to play lineups consisting of both Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich. God that was awful.

We've touched on it before:  Hoiberg's offense could potentially be an ideal fit for both Snell and McDermott. But aside from that aspect of it, the inclusion of Snell and McDermott into the rotation can more simply present Hoiberg and the Bulls with more options offensively.

This summer at Team USA's mini-camp, Jimmy Butler discussed wanting to play some point guard this upcoming season. With the way things went this past season, it wouldn't seem feasible by any means. That can change though, with the addition of the former. If Butler truly wants minutes at point guard, and Hoiberg believes it can be effective, having Snell and McDermott on board can bring it to fruition.

Hypothetically speaking, with Butler at the point guard position there would be a substantial void at the two-guard position. But as we've been saying all along if the duo can make the jump, those worries will subside. Having Butler at point guard, then allows the Bulls to move to a rather big backcourt, with either some combination of Snell, McDermott and Dunleavy at the two and three positions. It's plausible one could even throw Rose into that mix too playing the off-guard position.

Continuing, the league is moving more and more towards small ball, the Golden State Warriors the premier example. This past season, the Bulls didn't have the option, or did but chose not to. With Snell and McDermott in the fold, it can become an option. More likely in this case it'd be McDermott at the four spot, and a new dynamic offensively.

Again, it's to provide the Bulls with more scoring options. Rose, Butler and Pau Gasol will shoulder much of the scoring load, and Nikola Mirotic will garner his fair share. Though with Snell, who shot 37% from deep last season, and McDermott, a known sharpshooter himself, it allows them to stretch and space the floor for the aforementioned players, as a result making them that much more difficult to defend.


Chicago's title window isn't getting any wider heading into next season. Time is of the essence, and with the Bulls bringing back the entire group of last season, it's putting a lot trust and confidence that under Fred Hoiberg, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott can take the necessary steps in their careers to help push them to the brink of a title. It feels as if both may be on the cusp of breaking out and forming into the roles envisioned. But if not, another opportunity may be lost once more, and that immediate title window will close.