DEERFIELD, Ill. -- In what was likely the fourth-most important Chicago Bulls story of the day, the team introduced its first and second-round draft picks, Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow, on Monday morning.
That news conference was overshadowed by Carmelo Anthony's impending meeting with the Bulls when free agency begins at midnight Tuesday. Then there was Derrick Rose's recent interview with Yahoo! Sports in which he professed an uncertainty about playing for the U.S. national team this summer and reiterated his reluctances to personally recruit free agents.
But the Bulls hope that McDermott, a 6-foot-8 sweet-shooting forward, isn't an afterthought when the season begins. They didn't trade their two first-round picks, Nos. 16 and 19, to snag him at No. 11, while also taking on the contract of Anthony Randolph from the Denver Nuggets, just because he's a nice guy.
However, this isn't the Missouri Valley Conference or the watered-down Big East. McDermott will have a big adjustment to make going from big man on campus to a rookie playing for hard-charging Tom Thibodeau.
McDermott, who played for his father Greg McDermott at Creighton, believes his four-year career has prepared him for this stage.
"I feel like I'm ready right from the get-go," McDermott said. "I played four years, unlike a lot of guys who maybe went higher than a lot of guys drafted before me. But I feel like that's helped me. I went thorough a lot of adversity and have seen just about everything on the college floor for four years."
McDermott was one of two college players to participate in the USA basketball minicamp last summer in Las Vegas. One of the coaches was Thibodeau.
"I learned lot from [Thibodeau]," McDermott said. "There were two courts. One court they were doing defensive drills, the other court they were doing a lot of putting in new sets. Of course he had defense. We did a lot of guarding picks and rolls, doing a lot of coverage stuff."
McDermott said that camp helped him for his senior season playing in the new Big East. He led the nation in scoring at 26.7 points per game and was the consensus player of the year.
"Just going against NBA guys gave me lot of confidence going into the season," he said. "To be able to play against some of best players in the world, that alone helped me going into my senior year."
Does that mean he's going to be a difference-maker as a rookie? It would be against type, especially if the Bulls can reload during free agency.
Last year's first-round pick Tony Snell played 16 minutes a game, a number buoyed by injuries and the Luol Deng trade. Jimmy Butler averaged 8.5 minutes per game as a rookie during the lockout season. Back in 2010-11, center Omer Asik averaged around 12 minutes a game as a rookie. Asik and Butler became major contributors in their second seasons.
Out of those three, Asik had the most impact as a rookie. But McDermott is a more aggressive, more complete offensive player. He scored from all over the floor during his career, but defensively, he'll have his work cut out for him.
"I've got to get better defensively, everyone does," McDermott said. "But this is the perfect spot to improve because they've been so great defensively. I've got a lot to learn."
Very few rookies come in ready to play big minutes. Snell wound up playing more than some top-draft picks on bad teams.
"It's a big adjustment," Thibodeau said. "The first step is come in and learn the system, learn the NBA game, learn your teammates and your opponents. It's a big learning curve. We like the way both guys work. But it's a step by step process. The first step is be great practice players."
Like Erik Murphy last season, the Bulls believe their second-round pick can make the team. They first noticed Bairstow, a 6-foot-9 post player, when they were scouting Snell, a fellow New Mexico Lobo, and they think he can be a physical power forward off the bench. Bairstow has played international basketball for Australia and said he knows how to compete against "men."
Both players will suit up for the Bulls summer league team in Las Vegas.