Doug McDermott or Tony Snell? Who should be the starting small forward for the Chicago Bulls? Will it be the second-year player, or the veteran entering his third season who takes over place of an injured Mike Dunleavy?
Dunleavy, last season’s starting small forward, had offseason back surgery. The Chicago Tribune originally reported in September that he would miss 8-10 weeks. That would have set the timetable for his return around mid to late December. Dunleavy would brush back any ideas of a speedy comeback, according to ESPN Chicago.
The loss of Mike Dunleavy means that either Doug McDermott or Tony Snell must step up. The Bulls would love for both of them to rise to the challenge.
So far, five games have taught Bulls’ fans a lot.
If the Bulls preseason games have provided any information that would weigh the decision in favor of one player or another, an argument can be made on behalf of both players. It is a matter of offense versus defense.
That is exactly how to play a fast break 1 on 1 by Tony Snell. Force to one side, then contest as best you can.
— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) October 13, 2015
Thus far, scoring has not been the problem for the Bulls. From floor spacing to passing, from passing to setting screens, there is always movement on the basketball court. It is just the preseason, but pacing is better with the Bulls. That is attributed to their coaching change.
Chicago Bulls’ head coach Fred Hoiberg was hired for three primary reasons: he has a great rapport with the Bulls’ front office, he is a strong communicator, and he can teach offensive principles that will work in an NBA game. His hiring has provided an instant upgrade to several players on the offensive end. Hoiberg has a pet project in Doug McDermott.
McDermott was a high-volume scorer in his college days at Creighton University. During his rookie year last season, he was either glued to the bench, injured, or played sparingly. He was not a help to the Bulls in the 2014-15 season, because he did not play. Doug McDermott did have rookie status, meaning that there was a lot he could have learned. Playing is the best way to learn in most cases.
There were times last season when the Bulls could have used a scorer.
When he was healthy, Doug McDermott could have saved the Bulls from their scoring droughts. He struggled with his shot at times, but as a volume shooter, the slumps could have gone away with some consistent minutes.
It's only the preseason, but we're clearly seeing a different and better Doug McDermott.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) October 15, 2015
It is just the preseason, but the early returns are somewhat promising.
Doug McDermott on offense has been fantastic. Over 46 percent shooting from the field, averaging 16.6 points a game, is what he has produced in five preseason games. His rebounding prowess has also been on display. Pulling down 4.6 boards has helped get the Chicago Bulls in transition. Not being relegated to just a jump shooter, McDermott also has the ball in his hands a lot.
That is part of Coach Hoiberg’s design. On the Bulls, everybody is a playmaker. Where the improvement must come from now is on defense. That is where Tony Snell comes in.
Snell is a better defender than McDermott is at this stage. He can save guard Jimmy Butler from having to solely chase the tougher wing players around on the court. That is a plus.
The extra 10 pounds of muscle that Tony Snell has added will help when the Chicago Bulls have to play the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers. The drawback is his offensive production.
Tony Snell will be a starter for the Bulls for now. How long he can hold on to the job remains to be seen.
Thus far, Coach Hoiberg feels most comfortable with McDermott coming off the bench. CSN Chicago is reporting that the Bulls’ boss envisions the second-year forward as the anchor for the second-unit. This could help the Bulls as long as he maintains his scoring output.
— Comcast SportsNet (@CSNChicago) October 18, 2015
Snell suffered an ankle injury last week. That may set him back in the hunt for the Bulls’ starting small forward job. How he returns from the injury will determine plenty. The margin for error is slim, with McDermott nipping at his heels.
There are compelling arguments for both Doug McDermott and Tony Snell to become the Chicago Bulls’ starting small forward. It is the one position battle that is worth paying attention to.
Who would you like to see the Chicago Bulls start at small forward?
[Photo by Andy Lyons / Getty Images Sport]