Three larger-than-life posters hang on the wall in the Championship Center, where the Creighton men’s and women’s basketball teams practice. Each of the posters show one of the three Creighton basketball greats—Doug McDermott, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver — who will appear on NBA rosters this season.
The newest Bluejay in the league is Doug McDermott, who is entering his third season in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls.
After being a model of consistency in his career at Creighton from 2010-14, McDermott has struggled to find his niche in his first two years in the NBA.
McDermott struggled to get off the bench his rookie season and had the challenge of adjusting to a coaching transition last year. McDermott is hoping that the continuity of returning second-year coach Fred Hoiberg and the entire coaching staff from last season will help him have a breakout year.
“It’s huge, having the same staff back. Obviously there’s new teammates, but a lot of philosophies stayed the same, a lot of the plays stayed the same,” said McDermott. “That’s the most exciting part — being around the same staff and being able to work with them every day. The continuity is great.”
McDermott stayed in Chicago for the majority of the summer working with the Bulls’ coaching and training staff.
“I thought [Doug] grew as [last year] went on,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. “This summer, a big emphasis with Doug was working on his positioning and working on his defense and that’s what’s going to keep him on the floor for extended periods,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.
McDermott is comfortable with his role this year on the Chicago team which added some major talent in the offseason.
The Bulls bolstered their backcourt this summer, signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to play alongside All-Star guard Jimmy Butler. Suddenly, McDermott is the fourth option in a deep guard rotation, but he doesn’t think that will hinder what promises to be breakout year for him.
“[I’ll] be a guy who comes off the bench and is able to space the floor and make shots,” said McDermott. “We’ve got some superstars and some star power. You always need some good role players to go along with that.”
Although Wade, Rondo and Butler are great players, they all share a common weakness — outside shooting. McDermott is one of the deadliest 3-point shooters in the league, as he finished fifth in the NBA last season in 3-point percentage at 42.5 percent.
“We feel Doug is one of the best shooters in this league. He’s one of those guys where if he’s open and it doesn’t go in, it shocks you,” said Hoiberg. “He’s a guy we feel is going to play a lot of minutes with the playmakers we have, and he’s going to have to make shots.”
When it comes to 3-point shooting, few players have been more effective than former Bluejay Kyle Korver, who played at Creighton from 1999-2003.
Entering his 14th season in the NBA and fifth with the Hawks, Korver has become a staple in the NBA thanks to his work ethic and shooting mechanics.
The only players who have made more 3-pointers than Korver in the past five NBA seasons are Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and James Harden.
Korver has found a home with the Hawks and has played the best years of his career there.
However, at age 35, entering the last year of his contract with the Hawks, questions have been raised on how much longer Korver has left in the league before retirement. Korver insist that he feels good enough to keep going.
“I want to play as long as my body feels good,” said Korver. “I still feel good right now.”
Korver admits, though, that as his personal life has developed, the challenge of preparing for the season has gotten tougher.
“I feel like my life is more full now," Korver said. “I have kids and a wife, and there’s a lot more things in life… so I think for me the challenge as you get older is can you be a good husband, be a good father and still have the energy to work out twice a day in the offseason.
The third Bluejay in the NBA, Anthony Tolliver, has had a career defined by instability.
After leaving Creighton in 2007, Tolliver went undrafted and has bounced around the league in his eight year career.
Tolliver has been a journeyman in the NBA, appearing in games for nine teams in his career. He has spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons, appearing in 124 games for them.
Stability may be on the horizon for Tolliver, though, as he signed a two year, $16 million deal with the Sacramento Kings.