Fred Hoiberg’s advice to Doug McDermott on defense: Be like Mike

SHARE Fred Hoiberg’s advice to Doug McDermott on defense: Be like Mike

There has been just one quick hook for the defensively challenged Doug McDermott this season. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg doesn’t like to do it, but he has the depth to make a change if necessary.

The hope is McDermott’s defense will continue to improve, and Hoiberg believes he has the perfect mentor to emulate. Coming out of Duke, Mike Dunleavy was a better athlete than McDermott is now but still had a ways to go on defense. That isn’t the case anymore.

‘‘I think Mike can be a great role model for Doug as he’s early in his career,’’ Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves. ‘‘Mike has turned into what I think is a very good defender. He’s always in the right position, he’s smart, he uses his body, he anticipates very well, takes a first move with his back foot — things that he can help Doug along with in his career.

‘‘Doug has already gotten better on that end. He’s a very intelligent kid, and he’s always working on it. He always wants to watch film and clips on how he can get better on that end.’’

That isn’t the scouting report a team wants to hear about an 11th overall pick, but it’s reality for the Bulls and McDermott. What’s promising is that McDermott understands his shortcomings and has committed to improving on them.

‘‘That’s the goal,” said McDermott, who got the start over Tony Snell for the second consecutive game. ‘‘Guys are attacking me. I’m aware of that, and I’m a competitor, too. I’m gonna get better. I didn’t play a whole lot last year. It’s the first go-round playing against real NBA competition. I’m gonna get blown by from time to time, but I have great help behind me.”

McDermott isn’t the only Bull guilty of defensive lapses. Nikola Mirotic is another player who can be subbed out for Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson if he shows he’s overmatched.

‘‘It has to be a good matchup for you out there, and if you’re getting exposed, then you have to look at somebody else coming in and doing the job,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘The good thing is we’ve got the depth.’’

Hinrich out again

Kirk Hinrich (toe) was unavailable, but Hoiberg said he’s close to returning. Hinrich has missed four games and received an injection last week. The hope is to have him back Monday in Philadelphia.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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