On a recent trip to a Mexican restaurant in Chicago, Doug McDermott noticed someone in line staring at him.
"The guy was like, 'Wait, you're that 'McBuckets' guy,'" McDermott recalled last week in an interview on WGWG-FM. "That's when I knew the nickname officially stuck."
Get used to it, Bulls fans. Dougie McBuckets became a household name around town Thursday after the Bulls turned the NBA draft into their best-case scenario by coming away with McDermott. The Naismith Trophy winner, who spent the last couple of months working out in the city, now will have to start looking for a place to live.
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The Bulls couldn't be happier to make McDermott feel at home. They really got the player they wanted all along, one they targeted for years.
To accomplish that, Bulls vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman did what they rarely do. They stepped outside their comfort zone to make everybody feel better about the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. They went out of their way to create the Bulls' own luck, and if it turns out to be bad, so be it. They tried.
The Bulls needed shooting and drafted one of the two best shooters in America. A defense-driven team lacked offense, so they addressed that weakness by selecting a guy who scored 3,150 points in college.
This almost never happens at the Berto Center. On draft night, the Bulls typically close eyelids more than they raise eyebrows. This year, the Bulls aggressively sent the 16th and 19th picks and a 2015 second-rounder to the Nuggets to acquire McDermott, the 11th player selected.
Traditionally, the Bulls play it safe. They are like the passengers who listen to the flight attendant's exit plan, the pedestrians who refuse to jaywalk. They let caution guide them more than they throw it to the wind. But for a refreshing change, the Bulls got bold with a move that potentially foreshadowed bigger things this summer. Paxson and Forman can cross shaking up the draft off their McBuckets list.
Trading up to take McDermott keeps alive the courtship of Anthony, otherwise known as Plan A. More than creating salary-cap space by paying one rookie instead of two, adding McDermott makes $3.3 million-per-year veteran Mike Dunleavy expendable in any potential sign-and-trade deal for Anthony. Even with McDermott, the Bulls still lack a wing player who can create his own shot, but that's a question better answered in free agency.
"We're going to have to be creative,'' Forman said.
As positive a development as taking McDermott represented, the best news for the Bulls involved the big picture and Anthony. The Mavericks and Rockets already manipulated their salary caps for Anthony. This was the Bulls' turn.
Forget the Kevin Love trade that never materialized. Consider the Bulls all-in on Carmelo, as they should be. If the Bulls didn't feel good about their chances to land Anthony in free agency, they would have drafted two college players capable of joining coach Tom Thibodeau's rotation. Instead, they upgraded the roster with McDermott and pared the payroll to prepare for Anthony's arrival.
McDermott will be waiting for him, probably somewhere behind the 3-point line.
Naturally, McDermott will hear comparisons to Kyle Korver because of the Creighton connection, but he possesses the ability to be more complete. On ESPN minutes after being drafted, McDermott likened himself more to former NBA forward Wally Szczerbiak, who carved a nice NBA niche with an intelligent all-around game.
Legitimate concerns surround the athleticism of McDermott. But if any coach can coax a limited player into defending well enough to stay on the floor, it is Thibodeau, who sounded thrilled the Bulls finally drafted a rookie he won't have to bury on the bench. After taking first-round projects Marquis Teague in 2012 and Tony Snell last year, the Bulls were due to draft somebody capable of contributing from day one.
"If you view him as simply a shooter, you're not casting the proper light on that,'' Thibodeau said.
Being the son of a demanding coach also should help McDermott adapt quickly to Thibodeau. This is a young man who truly was coached 24/7, the way Thibodeau operates. Greg McDermott, Creighton's coach since 2010, raised Doug to respect hard work and sacrifice and then backed up those words with an action that illustrated it. After a key Creighton teammate was granted a sixth year of eligibility last summer, the McDermotts opened up a scholarship for the player by paying $34,000 for Doug's tuition. That made McDermott the most decorated walk-on in the country.
Nobody in college basketball was a bigger bargain than McDermott.
No NBA team had reason to think it made a better first-round investment than the Bulls.