The USA Select Team is the jolt Doug McDermott needs this offseason

Doug McDermott has shown flashes of his potential to be an extremely productive NBA player. One thing that shines through when McDermott struggles is his lack of confidence. His inability to defend also has been a glaring weakness. The 24-year-old just received an invitation that will help him improve in both departments. He will join USA Basketball’s Select Team in July, for the second time in as many summers.

McDermott earned his previous time with USA Basketball based on his amazing collegiate career. Now, after an up-and-down season with the Bulls, this vote of confidence is just what he needed.

USA Basketball announced the 25-member Select Team today. It features a talented group of young NBA players, as well as some college players who will be drafted soon. McDermott and the other members of the Select Team will participate alongside the Men’s National Team as they prepare for Rio 2016.

The USA Select Team will be coached by Gregg Popovich. The no-nonsense coach and the ultra competitive workouts in Las Vegas will help McDermott understand he has the potential to hang with the elite players in the NBA.

Doug McDermott durring USA Basketball Men's Select Team practicein July of 2014 - Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein

Doug McDermott during USA Basketball Men’s Select Team practice in July of 2014 – Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein

McDermott’s first year in Chicago was shortened by a knee injury. He was later deemed almost unplayable by Tom Thibodeau, because of his inability to defend. His second season with the Bulls was still inconsistent. But he showed stretches of offensive brilliance, as well as a greater ability to defend.

His ability to consistently stretch the floor for the Bulls will be key, if they hope to have a quick turnaround. He is a gifted scorer, whose size and quick release from 3-point range makes him practically unguardable from that distance. When McDermott is able to shoot at a relatively high percentage, it helps to unlock the rest of his offensive arsenal.

McDermott’s defense has been below average, and even at 6-foot-8 he does not rebound very effectively. He knows he must improve in both categories this offseason. The Select Team will offer McDermott a chance to guard some of the best players in the world. He will also see the effort which is required in order to make winning plays away from the ball.

There are not many third or fourth-options who are capable of scoring like McDermott. But if he wants to play more minutes at a higher level next season he must have the confidence to know he belongs, at both ends of the floor.

Playing a small role in USA Basketball this summer should help McDermott improve the two things holding him back: confidence and defense. The Select Team camp only lasts four days, but it could prove to be a vital boost for the talented small forward heading into his pivotal third season.

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Video: Joakim Noah to the Timberwolves? Don’t bet on it

Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly interested in acquiring Joakim Noah in free agency. Noah will become a free agent July 1st, and although a reunion between Thibodeau and the heart and soul of his Bulls’ teams sounds great, it probably won’t happen: here is why.

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Podcast: Let’s Be Reason-a-Bull Podcast, episode 1

In my first solo podcast, and the first ever edition of the Let’s Be Reason-a-Bull Podcast, I discuss a wide range of Bulls topics. I touch on the upcoming NBA Draft and who the Bulls should consider taking with the 14th pick. I wade through offseason rumors, expectations for next season and much more.

(Error note: Klay Thompson went to Washington State University, not the University of Washington)

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Taj Gibson, a very lovable Bull

Taj Gibson’s name has once again come up in trade rumors, and his future in Chicago is unclear. Now, let’s take some time to appreciate him, while he is still here.

Gibson was drafted by the Bulls in 2009. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Gibson went on to attend the University of Southern California. As one of the oldest players in college basketball, he was a standout at USC, earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors in his last season in Los Angeles.

Since his arrival in Chicago, Gibson has worn his heart on his sleeve, in the best way possible. Fans at the United Center feed off of his energy and effort. And his teammates and coaches love him for it.

Gibson has dealt with a lot of heartache away from basketball. He has lost many friends to gun violence, a fact which he does not enjoy sharing. But they do help him put his position as an NBA player into greater perspectivethis past winter he brought the issue of gun violence to light on ESPN. It was truly eye-opening and inspiring.

As a rookie Gibson started in 70 games, and was selected to the All-Rookie First Team. Since then, he has started in a combined 104 games, after he was asked to take a backseat to Carlos Boozer, and then Pau Gasol. When others would have sulked, Gibson made the most of his role, earning a 4-year, $33 million contract extension in 2013.

His aggression on defense helped earn the trust of Tom Thibodeau. His superb play in a reserve role lifted him to second place in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2014.

This past season, Gibson started in the most games since his rookie year. Despite his overall production going down from the previous two seasons, his impact was felt far beyond the box score.

In a season full of turmoil and embarrassing defeats, Gibson was the first to own up to the lack of effort. He was also the first player to have his coach’s back.

Slender 6-foot-9 power forwards who don’t even attempt to shoot 3-pointers are very rare in today’s NBA. But Gibson has not made it here because of his size or skill. He is playing at the highest level because of sheer will.

Gibson has never scored more than 30 points in an NBA game, but Chicago still loves him. Second-effort plays can help determine wins and losses. Gibson makes third and fourth-effort plays. Will over skill can go a long way.

The United Center was dead all season long despite the lofty attendance numbers. Gibson’s heart was the lone bright spot on some nights.

His experiences have allowed him to understand: the worst days playing basketball for a living, aren’t bad at all.

Gibson’s name came up in trade rumors again this year, as it does seemingly every season. He might not be a part of the Bulls plans going forward, which is understandable. He will be in the last year of his contract next season, and is about to turn 31.

Fans in Chicago should savor every moment Gibson has left in a Bulls’ uniform.

People complain about millionaire athletes not caring enough; this is never the case with Gibson. And because of this, the Brooklyn native has become one of Chicago’s most beloved athletes.

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Lake Shore Drives: Bulls offseason dreams

With the NBA Finals kicking off last night, and the hangover from the basketball party that was the Western Conference Finals still lingering, it is easy to forget how much great Bulls news is out there. Let’s Be Reason-a-Bull is here to help…


We begin with everyone’s favorite topic: offseason speculation

Bulls fans are worried about the future of the center position in Chicago, so they want to draft one. But should they? Chicago might already have a young big man on its roster who is ready to shine next season. And it might not be who you think.

There is no such thing as a dream offseason for most NBA teams. Here is what the Bulls’ offseason would look like if they had theirs. It was all a dream… and not the best one.

Five players the Bulls should target in the draft: a very point guard-heavy list. I am slowly starting to reconsider drafting a point guard.

He is playing in the NBA Finals. He would fill a vital role for the Bulls. And he will soon be a very coveted free agent. Here is a great post about why the Bulls should stay away from Harrison Barnes. I couldn’t agree more.


A glimmer of hope?

Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference who didn’t make the playoffs, who does Ric Bucher think can turn it around quickly? You might not have guessed it, but it is the Chicago Bulls. A voice of reason? I think so.


Random

Pau Gasol loves wearing his Spanish national team jersey. Yet, the worldly center is seriously considering skipping the Rio Olympics because of concerns about the Zika virus. If he is willing to miss playing for the team and country he loves for perhaps the final time, how safe can other athletes be this summer?

Great read about Steven Kerr’s unlikely NBA journey. He really has done it all.

A fan favorite wants to be your friend too.


Superstar Watch

We know Derrick Rose is still one of the most famous athletes in the world. But did you know he is still one of the most fashionable?

Tim Grover is a respected trainer of NBA stars like MJ and Dwyane Wade, and he thinks Rose can still improve his game. In a recent interview, he throws a lot of shots at the Bulls’ training staff for the role they might have played in Rose’s injury-filled career. I don’t know how much truth there is to this, but I do hope he’s right about Rose’s future.

Michael Jordan hasn’t played basketball in years, but his shoes are still king. Now FC Barcelona’s Neymar is teaming up with Jordan Brand on their first-ever soccer cleat.

We end our Friday trip through all of the latest Bulls news with Mr. Hollywood himself

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Video: Derrick Rose is still really famous

ESPN recently published their World Fame 100 list. Derrick Rose managed to come in at No. 30 overall, and No. 5 for basketball. This might seem crazy considering his career peaked almost five years ago. Or does it show just how famous he was then?

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Bulls mailbag: more uncertainty

Hello, Bulls fans. With the NBA Finals starting tonight, it’s time for another mailbag. Today’s questions show just how far away the Bulls are from contending.

Do you have any Bulls questions? Tweet them to me, @reasonabullblog

Below are today’s questions, and their corresponding answers.


Considering the team missed the playoffs this year and in all likelihood will have the same core next year, what are the chances that Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves will be better than the Bulls? – @Cavs216_Mania

Tom Thibodeau is taking over a Timberwolves team that won just 29 games last season. The Bulls’ core will be back, and if they remain relatively healthy, they should be able to muster at least 45 wins.

Making a 16-game jump is not unheard of in the NBA, but it is very difficult. The Timberwolves finished 13th in the Western Conference.

In Thibodeau’s first season in Chicago the Bulls made a 21-game jump. The Timberwolves have a similarly impressive young core. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are special players. And Towns might be the most promising young player in the NBA (the play below is just, wow).

With two of the most talented young players in the league and Thibodeau’s defensive greatness, the Timberwolves could be a .500 or better team.

I wouldn’t bet on it.

The 2016-17 season will be a make-or-break year for most of the Bulls’ key pieces.

Derrick Rose will be in the first real contract year of his career. Fred Hoiberg will be fighting to keep his job. And Jimmy Butler will be fighting to prove he deserves his newly acquired elite status.

The Timberwolves conference is better. Of the eight playoffs teams, only the Mavericks and Grizzlies will likely have a worse record next season (even though this is said every year about these teams). Of the non-playoffs teams ahead of them, the Jazz quietly are a great team, and if Anthony Davis is healthy the Pelicans will be better as well.

The Bulls will have a hard time playing worse next season, and they play in the less-competitive Eastern Conference.

The Timberwolves will be improved, but in the loaded West, they will have to make too great of a jump to pass the Bulls, next year.

With all of the talk about the lack of leadership in the locker room and how it may have contributed to this disastrous season, who do you think is best suited to fill that leadership role next season? – @Cavs216_Mania

The hope: all of them. The probability anyone will: 50/50.

Three people must take a much greater leadership role for the Bulls next season: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Fred Hoiberg.

Rose will be in the first true contract year of his career. He will have to prove he can play at a high level on a consistent basis in order to secure what will most likely be the last long-term contract of his career, in Chicago or elsewhere. Look for Rose to push the pace and prove he can be the player he once was; he really was not that far away during the second half (minus the flashy dunks).

Butler is coming off an up-and-down season on the court. Players might not have loved the vocal leadership role Butler took last season, but what is never questioned is his work ethic. Butler learned talk is cheap. He will bring energy and emotion every night next season.

Hoiberg was put in a rough stop in his first season. Expectations were very high and his fast-paced offense never showed its face. I have been a big proponent of giving him another chance to coach this Bulls team. The adjustment from Thibodeau to Hoiberg was far greater than anyone expected. He needs to show command of the locker room and the clipboard next year, or he will be out of a job. It is hard to fake desperation, he will improve.

Who do you think will be more intergral to the team next season: Nikola Mirotic or Doug McDermott? –  @Cavs216_Mania

Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott were the Bulls’ most inconsistent players last season (Tony Snell doesn’t even qualify at this point). They are also the secondary pieces who are the most vital next season.

When Mirotic and McDermott play well, the Bulls win. It is that simple. If they can find their 3-point shooting form on a nightly basis they make the Bulls a much better team. Despite their collective shooting prowess, both players can put the ball on the floor, not only to draw contact but finish at the rim as well.

They both need to improve defensively, McDermott more than Mirotic.

It is a toss-up between the two. They both need to play at a much higher level for the team to win. If only one of them can make the jump, Mirotic is more vital. Simply because of his ablitly to guard power forwards.

Do you think the Bulls regret hiring Hoiberg? – @Cavs216_Mania

No. He was and is their guy. This fact does not change simply because the results were not there in his first year.


Thank you for all of your questions, and please keep them coming. Feel free to reach out with any and all questions @reasonabullblog. I will be sure to get back to you.

Enjoy Game 1 of the NBA Final tonight. Until next time, Bulls fans.

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