It never fell into place for Doug McDermott last season.
Too fast of a game, too slow of feet, a position change, knee surgery … pick a stumbling block for the 11th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I feel like I didn’t get much opportunity last year, and I feel healthier,’’ McDermott said of his first offseason as a professional. “Health was a main thing for me. I feel as good as I ever have. Now that I don’t have to worry about injuries I can just focus on basketball and getting better, get my body right. I feel like I’m taking all the right steps and I’m excited to be able to show that.’’
It’s excited to be seen.
With Bulls training camp beginning on Monday with media day, all eyes will be on McDermott over the next month, as the 6-foot-8 forward out of Creighton gets to put his rookie year behind him, and start showing the Bulls that he was worth the trade with Denver.
Considering he played in just 36 regular-season games last season and averaged 3.0 points per game, he has to do his share of convincing.
The good news for McDermott is that he has a veteran to learn behind in Mike Dunleavy and has become a pet project of first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.
So will he thrive coming off what was basically a redshirt year? One of five major questions facing the Bulls as camp is set to kick off.
How will Derrick Rose handle the pressure?
The days of Rose hiding behind the storyline of being the humble kid from Englewood are over. Too many head-scratching comments, not enough shown on the court, and a less than quiet summer for the one-time league MVP.
Opposing fans can be cruel, so how will Rose deal with the scrutiny of a filed lawsuit, as well as his image taking a huge hit?
Is Joakim Noah ready to be a bench player?
The Pau Gasol-Joakim Noah duo never looked in sync last season. Sure, Noah’s bum left knee didn’t help, but the growing speculation is that Nikola Mirotic or Taj Gibson might be a better running mate with Gasol in the starting lineup.
That means Noah, who will be a free agent after this season, would have to accept being a bench player under a first-year coach coming straight out of college. Sounds like fun.
Has Jimmy Butler hit his ceiling?
Hollywood friends and a new tax bracket can change a player, so all eyes will be on Butler to see if he will have a more relaxed work ethic now that he has security.
Expect that not to happen, as Butler is not shy about wanting to be the new leader of this team, as well as continue getting out from the Rose shadow.
What vet will rookie Bobby Portis tick off in practice first?
So far Portis has shown that he’s very good at two things: Talking in third person and playing with that Kevin Garnett-edge that he often brings up.
He was able to show in Summer League that he’s not opposed to the hard foul or the technical, so expect some early fireworks from him in team scrimmages with the likes of Noah and Taj Gibson.