LAS VEGAS – What happened in Las Vegas wasn’t just going to stay in Vegas for Doug McDermott.
Not for a coach’s son, and not after a 2-for-8 shooting, 10-point performance in the rookie’s Summer League debut on Saturday.
No, McDermott knew what he was in store for, especially with his father/Creighton head coach Greg McDermott in town to watch his son’s first game as a member of the Bulls.
“I’m sure he’ll give me a hard time after this, watching film with me, but we’re in Vegas, and he’ll still probably have me watching film,’’ the younger McDermott said afterward, anticipating that his Saturday night in Sin City was already filled up.
But it wouldn’t be a good Vegas story without some luck. Greg McDermott was called out of town and had to leave immediately, pressure was off, and the response the following night from the No. 11 overall pick in last month’s draft was a video-game like 31 points on 7-for-12 shooting (5-for-9 from three-point range) in the win over the Denver Nuggets.
“He flew out on me, I didn’t even see him,’’ McDermott said of his father’s departure. “It’s probably a good thing I didn’t see him because I would have been thinking too much. He had to go home.’’
There will likely be a conversation of his debut on a further date, but all the Bulls care about is the player they used two draft picks (Nos. 16 and 19) to move up for and acquire is a quick learner.
“Really smart,’’ Bulls Summer League coach Adrian Griffin said. “He can shoot, put the ball on the floor, and does what’s asked of him.’’
That was the opinion of the entire coaching staff working with McDermott. “Quick learner,’’ was dropped numerous times in describing McDermott.
Good thing because come October when Camp Thibodeau opens, that basketball acumen will be tested.
It isn’t that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t like rookies. He just doesn’t trust them. Trust is earned, and that trust buys playing time.
Jimmy Butler went through it, Marquis Teague was swallowed up by it, and Tony Snell is trying to figure it out.
“Like all rookies when they come in, and I think you have to look at it as there’s a steep learning curve,’’ Thibodeau said of McDermott. “If you look at all the minutes that rookies played this year, it wasn’t a lot. You just go day-by-day, improve.’’
That’s what has been so refreshing with McDermott. He knows what playing for Thibodeau means, and the self-awareness of his weaknesses is not something he pretends doesn’t exist.
McDermott admitted he was overwhelmed in his debut. He talked about the game being faster than he could have imagined, more physical than he anticipated. But then less than 24 hours later, he responded. A 31-point response at that.
“I feel like it’s too early to tell,’’ McDermott said, when asked about playing time under Thibodeau as a rook. “I feel like I’m going to have to gain his respect, definitely. I’m going to have to work my tail off to get to that point and I definitely will. I’ll be in Chicago all summer up to training camp, work on my game and get in shape, and then we’ll see what happens.’’
The Bulls are counting on a lot happening.
The way the roster is currently constructed, Mike Dunleavy will start at the small forward spot, but McDermott could be heavily relied upon off the bench.
“I feel like I’m a lot more than a shooter, I feel like I’m a complete player,’’ McDermott said. “And having a coach like Tom Thibodeau is obviously only going to help me.’’
It will definitely test him, that’s for sure.