COMMENTARY | Maybe Daequan Cook's best days are behind him. Or, as his youth and limited use in the NBA thus far would suggest, perhaps they are yet to come. After signing Cook to a deal announced on Sunday, the Chicago Bulls will soon find out.
Cook is just 25-years-old and in the midst of his sixth NBA season, averaging only 19.4 minutes per game for his career. Since being taken with the 21st overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, he has been somewhat pigeon-holed as a specialist. Subsequently, very little wear and tear has been placed on Cook's body during his time with the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and most recently, the Houston Rockets. Although he did win the 3-point contest during NBA All-Star weekend in 2009, Cook has proven in the past to be more than just a shooter.
At Ohio State University, Cook was a key member of the "Thad Five." This was the name given to head coach Thad Matta's acclaimed recruiting class which also featured fellow coveted freshmen Mike Conley and Greg Oden. At OSU, Cook averaged over 4 rebounds per game and almost 10 points-- finishing third and fourth on the team in each category, respectively. While he was known even then for being lethal from long range, Cook was a good all-around player for the Buckeyes. Nonetheless, whereas Conley has made his mark in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies and Oden has seen his potential career derailed by injuries, Cook, who has managed to remain relatively healthy, has yet to really find his niche in the league.
Sometimes it's all about being placed in the right situation. The Bulls may be the team, and Tom Thibodeau the coach that best suits Cook. It is not uncommon to see players perform better or worse depending on the system and coach that they are playing under. The fact that Cook plays shooting guard, a spot at which the Bulls desperately need consistent production, gives him every opportunity to excel. Because he definitely has more to offer on the court than what he has previously been allowed, or asked to give.
Best case scenario, Cook is revitalized in Chicago and proves to be a reliable scoring option on the wing while also providing respectable defense-- both of which he is capable. At worst, he is a situational deep threat that can spread the floor and keep the defense honest. This will be especially important once Derrick Rose returns. So, while Cook is not the big name guard that Bulls' fans have been hoping the team will sign, even the least that he can contribute should prove useful.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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