Film Room: How Doug McDermott Broke Out of His Recent Slump vs. Memphis

Jimmy Butler saved the day late for the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night in Memphis, but it was Doug McDermott’s explosion that pole-vaulted the Bulls to a nice victory to complete their first back-to-back set sweep of the season.

In the previous four games for the Chicago Bulls, Doug McDermott looked like a player with absolutely no confidence in his ability to put the ball in the basket.

During those four games against Oklahoma City, Washington, New York and New Orleans, McDermott averaged just 5.3 points per contest on 22.6 percent shooting from the field.

Not great, Bob.

But, after four consecutive games of scoring less than 10 points per game, McDermott erupted for a career-high 31 points in a 108-104 Bulls victory in Memphis on Sunday night, including 20 in the second quarter alone.

How does McDermott — who was shooting 20 percent from 3-point range on 3.8 attempts from deep in the previous four games — combust for more points in one quarter than the Bulls scored in the entire first quarter (14) on Sunday?

In this Film Room breakdown, let’s take a look at what made McDermott such a weapon against the Grizzlies.

Nobody on the Bulls roster cuts better than McDermott does

To many, McDermott is a sniper from long range, but one of the positives that comes from McDermott’s game is his ability to shoot past defenders and cut into the lane for easier looks at the rim.

His first bucket on Sunday night came courtesy of a great cut down the baseline past JaMychal Green for two of his 22 first-half points.

Robin Lopez made a great read off a pick-and-roll look on the wing with Jimmy Butler. Lopez received a pass from Butler after Tony Allen and Zach Randolph both stuck with Butler. Randolph rotated back to Lopez, which led to Lopez putting the ball on the deck and finding McDermott (who cut down the baseline from the corner) for a nice layup late in the opening quarter.

Bobby Portis came down to seemingly set a screen/get a switch onto Vince Carter, and with Green watching Lopez and the ball, McDermott quickly took advantage of the situation.

On this possession, Ennis gets caught not watching McDermott’s off-ball movement just for a split-second and Rajon Rondo finds him with a great bounce pass for a layup after quickly picking up his dribble with Carter on him.

McDermott even showed off a little creativity to a degree

In this set, Rondo gets caught dribbling basically nowhere, but McDermott (with the help of Cristiano Felicio) gave him an outlet. McDermott basically “shoves” Felicio into the chasing Carter, which gives him all the space he needs for Rondo to get him the ball for a 3-point attempt (plus the foul).

A glimpse of what Hoiball is supposed to look like

Fred Hoiberg‘s “Hoiball” offensive system is more about just taking lots of 3-pointers, which the Bulls can’t and don’t really do because of their personnel, but that’s not the point.

The point is, his system is based around ball movement, pushing the ball with pace, and getting open looks from deep.

McDermott shoots this 3-pointer off a Portis screen that technically misses, but actually gives him all the space he needs to drain the shot just five seconds after the start of a new shot clock.

Pace off a miss? Check. Screening a hot shooter? Check. Three points? Check.

McDermott (can be and) is lethal from the left corner

He’s only taken 23 attempts from the left corner this season, but McDermott’s most effective make from 3-point range is the left corner 3. In those 23 attempts, McDermott is 11/23, which translates to 47.8 percent.

In this half-court set with the second unit, Denzel Valentine is the primary ball-handler. Portis and Felicio both come to set screens for a double-screen look near the top of the key. Felicio’s screen was more of a hip check if anything, but it did get Valentine more space to operate.

Both Felicio and Rondo cut to the basket, which led to Randolph sinking into the lane and Mike Conley taking Rondo’s cut. The difference in the play was James Ennis also took Rondo’s cut, which gave McDermott all the space he needed off a simple find from Valentine for 3.

Dirk McDermott, y’all

Doug McDermott is listed at 6’8″.

Troy Daniels is listed at 6’4″.

Advantage: Dirk McDermott.

What made McDermott such a lethal scorer at Creighton wasn’t just his ability to drain the outside shot with the best of them. He was a smart player in the post that could score down there.

McDermott got Daniels on a post-up, utilized a quick ball fake, took a couple dribbles, faded back and drained the shot.

James Ennis got the same work as Daniels in the final frame on the other side of the floor this time. McDermott’s shot looked like a simple fader, but the difficulties came before the shot. Allen actually got a hand on a poor entry pass from Valentine, which caused to be a shade off his mark. He reestablished, took a quick dribble and drained the shot.

The Bulls won’t get this McDermott every night, but a good (and *consistent*) version of him helps

Nobody’s asking or expecting Doug McDermott to take a Jimmy Butler-like leap into stardom. But, consistency with his jumper from all over the floor and just a pinch of hard work on the other end of the floor will go a long way for him.

He’s never going to be a plus-player defensively. It’s just not going to happen.

But, the Bulls can benefit greatly off McDermott’s becoming a consistent offensive weapon off the bench if Hoiberg continues to use him in that role. The Bulls needed every one of his 31 points on Sunday night and may not turn the tide on their season, but it could turn the tide on his confidence.

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