CHICAGO -- Doug McDermott wasn't about to take any chances. As he got ready to go to sleep Monday night, in advance of the Chicago Bulls' first official practice of the year on Tuesday, the rookie from Creighton did what many young people would do in preparation for their first day on the job: He set three alarms so he wouldn't be late for work.
“The butterflies came more [Monday] night," McDermott said after completing his first practice. "Once I step on the floor, it's just basketball. [Monday] night, I set like three alarms. I woke up every hour. I just had Thibs' voice in my head. I don't want to miss my first day. I was here bright and early. The nerves are gone. It's just basketball now, and I'm glad we're finally underway."
The Bulls have been high on the sharp-shooting swingman for several years and were thrilled when they swung a deal on draft night to acquire his rights from the Denver Nuggets. They believe he can become a shooting presence alongside Derrick Rose for years to come -- a fact Tom Thibodeau has acknowledged since the moment McDermott became a Bull.
"So far, what I'm seeing from Doug, in the USA setting and summer league, is his ability to shoot," Thibodeau said. "And I see how people react to his ability to shoot. When you have someone like that, it opens up the floor."
Aside from the shooting prowess, the key for McDermott -- and the Bulls -- is the rookie seems to already have a good feel for what it takes to be a Bull in Thibodeau's system. It will take time for him to earn the veteran coach's trust, especially on the defensive end, but Thibodeau usually gives the benefit of the doubt to players who work hard all the time. McDermott wants to become one of those guys, and the fact that he is already hearing Thibodeau's voice in his dreams means he's adapting quickly to his new way of life in the NBA.
“I went to bed early, woke up and thought it was time to go, but I looked at my phone and it was like 3:30 [a.m.]," McDermott said. "That's part of what's made me good. I'm kind of a perfectionist. I like being on time, and that's kind of the Bulls' way, anyway."
Now that practices have officially begun, McDermott's new teammates just want him to get used to playing in the NBA. Rose noticed McDermott seemed to be pressing during Tuesday's first workout.
"I think Doug's biggest problem right now is just his nerves," Rose said. "His nerves are up right now, and I think just playing in his first game or just playing in preseason is going to calm down his nerves so that he's more relaxed. The teammates, us as a team, we're going to really have to put our hands around him and calm him down because he's a great player, but nerves have something to do with just coming in and starting in your first year."
Like most rookies, McDermott, the reigning college national player of the year, admitted the speed of the game is different in college and the pros. He knows it's going to take time to adjust, and he knows he's going to have to deal with the initiations from veterans that come during many rookies' first year -- Rose joked McDermott didn't bring doughnuts to the gym Tuesday -- but the affable rookie is enjoying being a Bull. Given how hard Thibodeau can be on players, that alone is a good first sign for an organization so high on McDermott's potential.
“It's crazy -- being a Midwest kid growing up, I have to pinch myself at times," McDermott said. "Driving by those banners is pretty cool. I'm not going to take it for granted. I know how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be here and just want to take advantage of it."