Tom Thibodeau applauds rookie Doug McDermott's 'swag'

Tom Thibodeau used the word “swag” after Tuesday night's loss to the Detroit Pistons. That revelation in and of itself may have been the most surprising of the night, given it had never entered into Thibodeau's public lexicon before.

Besides the new vocabulary, the other surprising note is how it popped into Thibodeau's head in the first place. What player would elicit such a response?

Joakim Noah would be the obvious choice, since he uses the word all the time and is convinced he has the most swag on the team. Derrick Rose is the youngest MVP in league history and has been praised by teammates for his abundance of swag in the past.

But neither of those guys led Thibodeau to his compliment late Tuesday. Chicago Bulls rookie forward Doug McDermott did. Even after a 3-for-12 performance from the field, Thibodeau likes the rookie's makeup and his ability to keep shooting even when the ball isn't going down.

"He's got a lot of confidence," Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau knows players with that type of confidence can only attain it a certain way. It's the way Thibodeau wants all his players to think when they are on the floor.

"I know where confidence comes from," Thibodeau said. "Work and preparation. What do we call it now? Swag. We called it confidence back in the day. Where does it come from? People say, 'Well, he's a real confident guy.' The thing that you find is that the guys that put the work in, that gives you confidence. Each game is a test. It reveals exactly where you are. In this league, you can't skip steps.

"There's a lot of different ways I think you're seeing teams do it. The teams that win consistently, they put the work into it and they don't skip steps."

While Thibodeau's new word of the day may have been geared toward describing how he wants his entire team to feel, it was McDermott's belief -- and his shot -- that got him to that point.

After being admittedly nervous before training camp began, the Creighton alum has opened up even more eyes over the past week with his play.

"His nerves are calming down," Rose said. "Getting more confidence with the way that he's playing, knowing that he's able to take shots whenever he's open. He's going to be a big part of this team.

"With Thibs giving him this playing time and the way that he shoots the ball and competes, I can't wait to play with him. I think I only played with him for a couple of minutes last game. But whenever I get on the floor with him, I just try to ease his nerves some more."

A little over a week into his first professional training camp, McDermott believes his biggest strides have come on the defensive end.

"I'd say just totally understanding the defensive principles," McDermott said. "That's the main thing coming in, just because it's a whole different game now. For a guy like me, to adjust to certain tendencies that a coach wants us to do. Closeouts, being able to communicate with people, I think that's probably where I've come the furthest."

In that regard, McDermott is learning that the quickest way into Thibodeau's rotation isn't going to be based on swag alone. It will be by showing the veteran coach he can handle himself on the defensive end.

After watching Thibodeau rant his way through all 53 minutes of the second preseason game of the season, McDermott, a coach's son, is happy Thibodeau is the man leading the way.

"Who wouldn't want to play for a guy like that?" McDermott said. "A guy that really, truly cares about winning no matter what the circumstances are. I think it's great for a rookie to come into a situation like this, because there's no days off now. We're trying to win a championship. So we need to bring that championship mentality no matter what the circumstances are."

Part of that mentality is swag. McDermott and his teammates seem to have an abundance of that heading into the season.