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Realistic expectations for Naismith winner Doug McDermott

(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Creighton standout Doug McDermott was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the No. 11 pick before being shipped off to Chicago in exchange for the rights to Bosnia center Jusuf Nurkic (selected 16th overall), the rights to Michigan State guard Gary Harris (selected 19th overall) and a 2015 second-round pick.

“I knew watching that [Bulls-Wizards playoff game] that I was the perfect fit for [Chicago],” McDermott said. “I think I can bring so much. With D-Rose coming back, I can play off him so well because he draws so much attention.”

McDermott was a three-time all-American for Creighton, finishing his four-year college career with 3,150 points, fifth most in NCAA Division I history. As a senior he averaged 26.7 points, seven rebounds and 1.6 assists, accumulating the second most win shares (7.7) in the NCAA. Plus, he was named the 2014 Naismith player of the year.

Per DraftExpress, he scored 1.4 points per possession off screens, 1.3 off catch-and-shoot situations and 1.2 off the dribble. Plus, McDermott is an above average shooter from almost anywhere on the court. He turned in a field goal percentage of 52.6 percent which included making 96 of his 214 attempts from beyond the three-point line (44.9 percent) as a senior.

But like most rookies, it is best to keep expectations low, at least for their rookie year.

College players who win the Naismith tend to see a drop off in points per game when they first make the jump to the NBA level. Since Kenyon Martin won the award in 2000, Naismith winners see more than a 50 percent drop in their points per game in year one of the NBA career. They also average 2.9 win shares in their rookie season. That is roughly equivalent to Jordan Crawford’s 2013-14 campaign, where he averaged 11.0 points on 41.5 percent shooting, 2.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for Boston and Golden State.

A decline in production makes sense, of course, since competition in the NBA is far and away better than what the college ranks have to offer. And we would expect a lower rate of scoring and shooting after any player makes the leap to the NBA.

“If you view him as strictly a shooter, you’re not casting the proper light on him,” Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s a lot more than that. We think he’s a complete player. We think he’s capable of playing very good defense.”

Defense suffers too in the jump from college to pros. On average, Naismith winners since 2000 averaged 7.5 rebounds per game. In their rookie season that drops to 4.8.

Of course there is upside, as well. Andrew Bogut, Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin had excellent rookie campaigns, the latter winning rookie of the year after the 2010-11 season, but they were also the top pick overall in their respective drafts.

Here is a good starting point as to what Bulls fans can expect out of McDermott in year one: 11.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting (33.6 percent from three-point range) along with five rebounds, three assists and one steal per game.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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