Photo: Basketball player Doug McDermott responds to a question as the Chicago Bulls first round NBA draft pick during a news conference Monday, June 30, 2014, in Deerfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO -- The shot is a stroke of genius, quick and buttery soft, with a high arc in which the basketball seems to kiss the sky.
The man behind the trigger is Doug McDermott, a knockdown shooter whose baby face belies his 22 years. The 11th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft last June 26, the 6-foot-8, 218-pound small forward is coming soon to an NBA arena near you.
The national player of the year, McDermott is taking his talents to Chicago after a swap where the Denver Nuggets handed over the prized rookie as well as Anthony Randolph's expiring $1.8 million contract for the Bulls' No.16 and No, 19 picks.
McDermott, who plays well below the rim, neither has the freakish athleticism of an Andrew Wiggins nor the all-around polish of a Jabari Parker, but Doug is arguably the best shooter to come out of college in recent years.
After four years at Creighton University, McDermott became the 5th leading scorer in NCAA history with 3,150 points. He averaged 26.7 points per as a senior and according to the Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook he left Creighton as the all-time leader in field goals (1,141), 3-point shooting percentage (45.8), and free throws made (594).
Although Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is notorious for his reluctance to play rookies regardless of pedigree, it is "not inconceivable" to see McDermott land a spot in the starting lineup, wrote Hall-of-Fame NBA writer Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
"If you view him strictly as a shooter, you're not casting a proper light on him. He's a lot more than that. We think he's a complete player. We think he's capable of playing very good defense," coach Thibodeau, who worked with McDermott at Team USA last summer, told the Chicago Tribune.
Photo: The author with Doug McDermott at the NBA Draft Combine
Bulls GM Gar Forman chimed in and told the Tribune, ""He's a guy who is crafty with the ball, who can create his own shot, can go in the post some, has a quick release whether it's from the perimeter or outside."
With McDermott on board, the Bulls are now able to trade veteran Mike Dunleavy Jr. and create at least $5 million in salary cap space. McDermott, however, can also be shipped to New York in a sign-and-trade that would net Knicks free agent Carmelo Anthony, who will visit Chicago on July 1.
Whether he sticks in the Windy City or ventures to parts unknown, McDermott will be a solid NBA player for years to come. A proven scorer who can wriggle out of any defensive trap, Doug has the work ethic necessary to thrive in the NBA.
"Really exciting, being here, it's a fun process. I'm looking forward to going to the NBA. I love challenges," McDermott told NBA Philippines when I caught up with him at the Draft Combine last month at the Attack Athletics facility here in Chicago.
In an age when draft prospects usually spend only a year or two in college before turning pro, I asked Doug why he chose to play out all four years of his eligibility.
"I just love college. I love college basketball. I got better each year to prepare me for this," he replied.
Doug also addressed his perceived weakness on the defensive end and vowed to work on his quickness going up against certain guys especially the stronger and bigger bodies. "I want to get better and I really think I can improve in that area," he added.
McDermott was officially introduced to the media Monday afternoon at the Berto Center, the Bulls' practice facility in suburban Deerfield. " I think I'm a great teammate. I'll do whatever they ask," he said.
Just what the hoops doctor ordered.