CHICAGO -- Doug McDermott looks and sounds like a different player in his second NBA season.
The affable swingman played one of the best games of his young professional career in Wednesday night's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring 17 points while helping the Chicago Bulls to their fourth consecutive victory. After it was over, the 23-year-old delivered an honest assessment of how his game -- and more importantly his confidence -- has transformed over the past year.
"I just feel so much more confident," McDermott said. "Last year sometimes I was even like just kind of scared, you know? I didn't really know what I was doing out there. This year I'm just so much more comfortable. And I think it all starts at the defensive end, I'm starting to understand things more. So I don't think about as much on offense either. I really want the ball. When I'm open I feel like I can make that a majority of the time so I'm going to continue to do that."
McDermott's impression of his own game is dead on. He looked unsure of himself last season. But it's rare that you hear a professional athlete admit to it in a public setting.
After struggling to find a rhythm throughout the early part of the season, McDermott has settled in nicely for new coach Fred Hoiberg. He has scored 42 points over his past three games and is shooting 44.6 percent from beyond the arc. An argument could be made that no player has benefited more from the transition from former head coach Tom Thibodeau to Hoiberg over the first two months of the season.
McDermott is no longer worried about coming out of games after a mistake or a missed defensive assignment. The personal relationship between Hoiberg and McDermott seems to have calmed the young player's nerves. McDermott has known Hoiberg for years -- both are alums of Ames High School in Iowa. As McDermott has become more settled in his role, the confidence he speaks of, at least in part, is due to the fact that he knows Hoiberg believes in him.
"He runs stuff for me," McDermott said. "He gives me that confidence. He'll run stuff for me and when you've got Derrick [Rose] and Jimmy [Butler] out there you need a floor spacer and I know I'm going to get shots with those guys eventually just because they draw so much attention."
The beauty for McDermott is that the confidence he has found in his game has spawned even more confidence from within the Bulls' locker room.
"Doug is being Doug," Bulls guard Derrick Rose said. "He's extremely aggressive. We want him to be aggressive. Every open shot that he takes we think that it's going down and with a shooter like that it makes the floor bigger."
Hoiberg believes that McDermott's renewed confidence is due to his putting in even more time working on his game.
"I think the biggest thing depending on what area they're struggling in is just to get reps," Hoiberg said. "If it's something on the defensive end, you come out and do some extra work, a lot of times one-on-one, two-on-two or three-on-three. If they're struggling with a shot, you just go extra work whether it's before or after practice. That's the big thing with Doug, he's put in so much time. And it's paying off."
McDermott doesn't hide from the fact that he still needs work on the defensive end, but the Bulls always believed in his ability to shoot. They always hoped that his offensive ability would shine through. After a season in which McDermott rarely saw the floor, then missed about two months after a knee scope, the Bulls are confident that he is finally starting to turn the corner.
"Night-and-day difference," McDermott said. "Last year right now I think I was probably in a hospital bed getting surgery so I didn't really know what to expect coming into the league last year. I was a rookie that really didn't know much. So now just have a year under my belt learning from guys, it's been huge. I feel like a completely different player out there."