Is Doug McDermott playing that bad on defense for the Bulls or is social media just picking on him?
Well, sort of and of course.
Let’s face it, the Bulls didn’t trade two first-round draft choices to acquire McDermott with the 11th pick two years ago because of his lockdown defense. He’s called McBuckets, not McClamps, for a reason.
Still, social media does seem to target his defense, and it’s never been more apparent than in his last two starts against the Timberwolves and Thunder.
On Sunday, McDermott scored 11 points in 20 minutes. His opponent, Tayshaun Prince, had 8 points in 38 minutes, including the layup above in overtime. Still, McDermott came away from the loss with his worst plus/minus of the season at -19; Prince was +2. Only Derrick Rose had a worse plus/minus in the game with -21.
In his first NBA start last Thursday, McDermott played 23 minutes, covering mostly Andre Roberson and, at times, Dion Waiters. Roberson made one three-pointer and Waiters had a blow-by layup. McDermott scored nine points. Yet, McDermott’s apparent defensive inefficiencies again were on full display in social media.
In this still shot, it does appear McDermott looks lost on defense, however he was simply following Fred Hoiberg’s game plan. McDermott left Roberson—a weak offensive player—wide open in the corner, to give help to Derrick Rose, who had his hands full with Russell Westbrook. It just so happened this was the play Roberson made his only shot.
Despite outscoring his opposition 9-5, McDermott had his second worst plus/minus (-14) of the season in the Bulls’ 104-98 victory over the Thunder.
So, in his first two starts, McDermott has outscored his opponents but has put up his two worse plus/minus figures of short season.
Has McDermott’s defense gotten worse since he took over the starting role from Tony Snell? No, his footwork is as slow as it always was.
What has changed are his surroundings.
He’s now on the floor with Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Derrick Rose. His inefficiencies—and theirs—are easily exposed in that unit, as opposed to Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson having his back when he came off the bench.
Since going to the bench, Tony Snell played below average against the Thunder but posted a +7, then followed it up with a team-high +15 against the Wolves.
McDermott needs to be careful of the company he keeps, which just might change very soon.