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McDermott’s minutes are down, but his confidence is up

OAKLAND, Calif. — For Doug McDermott, minutes are the biggest indicator, not the opinions of fans or the media.

McDermott finally seems to be over letting that noise creep into his head.

It hasn’t been easy. Through his first two seasons, McDermott admittedly felt the pressure of being a lottery pick out of Creighton in the 2014 draft, especially after the Bulls gave up two first-round picks to acquire him from the Denver Nuggets.

No longer.

“Nah, not even thinking about that anymore,’’ McDermott said. “My attitude is just to go out there, and whatever happens, happens, especially with my shot.’’

His shooting has not been great lately. He has been inconsistent from three-point range, and his defense remains an issue.

Second-round pick Paul Zipser has jumped ahead of him in the rotation, so McDermott’s minutes have dwindled.

“It’s a good opportunity for Paul,’’ McDermott said. ‘‘Obviously, [coming off the bench first] was something I was comfortable with [early in the season], but he’s played well.

“I’ve been getting comfortable coming in that second quarter, and they’ve been running a lot of offense for me, so that I can be aggressive in a short period. I’m fine with it, I guess. Obviously, you’d rather be the first guy off the bench, but that’s what the coaches see.’’

McDermott was averaging 27.4 minutes in December. By January, he was down to 24.1 minutes. Through the first four games in February, he’s down to 15.3 minutes, including the victory Monday against the Sacramento Kings in which McDermott played a season-low nine minutes.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said McDermott was lethal from outside in practice Thursday afternoon.

“Now it’s about doing it in the game,’’ Hoiberg said. “You can make all you want in practice — 50 or 60 in a row — but when those lights turn on, that’s when you gotta perform, put it in the hoop. You see that thing go in and get your confidence back. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.’’

McDermott, however, feels like his confidence is just fine.

“That’s why I’m out there, to shoot,’’ McDermott said. “I think I’m shooting a little better from three, getting more attempts up, rather than thinking that I’m not a shooter. That’s important. It’s been a lot better the last few weeks, but I know I still have to clean up some stuff.’’

Veteran guard Rajon Rondo, who has become the main ballhandler with the second unit, still has confidence in McDermott.

“All [Doug] needs is a game like Memphis [in which he scored 31 points],’’ Rondo said. “A couple of games in a row to get going, and then the sky is the limit. Regardless of how many shots he’s missed, if he’s open, I’m hitting Doug.

“Young players need positive reinforcement, staying in his ear, continuing to support him in the rough times, and, eventually, if he’s a professional NBA player, he’ll come through.’’

That’s what the Bulls are waiting for.

Make that hoping for.

NOTE: Jimmy Butler (bruised right heel) was a full participant in practice and was looking to return Friday against the Phoenix Suns after missing the last three games. Dwyane Wade (virus), Paul Zipser (left ankle) and Isaiah Canaan (left big toe) were questionable and considered day-to-day.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com