Q&A with Chicago Bulls forward Cameron Bairstow


By Sherron Shabazz

Second round draft picks in the NBA are tricky. For every Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd and Manu Ginobili, there are fifty second round draft picks that never get to set foot on an NBA court. Nothing is guaranteed for a second rounder and their road toward NBA stability is rocky, to say the least.

That’s why when the Chicago Bulls signed forward/center Cameron Bairstow to a three-year deal (year one and half of year two guaranteed) eye brows were raised. Why would Bulls management make that type of commitment to a guy that’s projected to be thirteenth on the teams depth chart?

Because they believe in him, that’s why.

The Bulls noticed Bairstow during scouting trips at the University of New Mexico while sizing up last year’s first round pick Tony Snell. Bairstow’s output from his junior season to his senior season was astounding.

The 6-9, 250 pound Australian doubled his scoring average (9.7 ppg to 20.4 ppg) from his third collegiate season to his fourth. Bairstow also doubled his free throw percentage and blocked shots per contest while shooting 55% from the floor.

“We like Cameron’s combination as a player with his size, energy and physicality,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.  “He is a hard worker who will only get better with time.”

The 49th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft got to showcase his talents during the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League. The former New Mexico Lobo averaged 10.2 points and 7 rebounds while helping the Bulls to a 4-1 Summer League record.

Bairstow’s numbers don’t exactly pop out at you, but his style of play does. The rugged and steady big man fits the blue collar culture of the Chicago Bulls perfectly. While he’s not likely to see meaningful minutes during his rookie campaign, Bairstow will have the luxury of learning under Coach Tom Thibodeau and veteran big men Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Nazr Mohammed.

I sat down with Cameron Bairstow during Chicago Bulls media day to discuss his on court chemistry with fellow rookie Doug McDermott, his first taste of the big leagues at Las Vegas’ Summer League, and his transition from the college game to the pros.

SS: How long have you been in Chicago?

CB: I just got here last Sunday, so a bit over a week ago.

SS: Have you been working out with the team?

CB: Yeah, I worked out all last week. It was good to get in and get going.

SS: Who’d you work with?

CB: It changes. We’ve gotten more and more guys that started to come in. All the new guys were in here and as the week went on all the veterans came in so it was good.

SS: What was your experience like in Summer League?

CB: It was good to get in and get a taste of it all – how the organization operates, some of the sets, and defensive principles and all of that kind of thing. It was good to get a head start in a lot of those areas and get to play in that next level after college. Even though it’s not the NBA game we got to play with NBA rules so it was a really good experience.

SS: Do you feel like you have chemistry with Doug from playing together this summer?

CB: Definitely the more you play with someone the more that will come into play. I thought playing with Doug in Summer League definitely helps moving forward.

SS: You played with Tony Snell in college, has he given you any advice about transitioning from college to the pros?

CB: Yeah, he has. Tony has been really helpful. I’ve played with him for a number of years in New Mexico and saw his transition last year. He’s been really helpful moving forward into this transition as a rookie. I’m sure he’ll continue to be helpful.

SS: For those that haven’t seen you play what do you bring to this team?

CB: I think toughness and intensity. I definitely like to play physical and do whatever my role is on the team. Regardless of what it is I think I’ll apply myself with that. As I progressed in college those roles changed, but definitely being a physical presence is what I pride myself on.

SS: Has Coach Thibs talked to you about your role on the team this year?

CB: Not yet. That’s obviously going to come. We haven’t started practice yet. I’m just here ready to learn and get going.

SS: Are you excited to play with Derrick Rose?

CB: Definitely. I’m excited to play with everyone.

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