4 Teams That Need LaVine

Why should the Bulls trade LaVine?

Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr and Coby White’s development has been underdeveloped due to Zach LaVine’s high usage rate, which is 8th amongst guards.  Carter Jr is only getting 8 shots per game, Coby white is getting uncomfortable riding the bench especially in clutch moments and the worst aspect of this Bulls hapless season is the decline of Markkanen’s production. ‘The Finisher’ is looking more like ‘The Mirotic’ without the beard.  Last season Markkanen averaged 18.7 points, 15.3 shot attempts and shot 43% but this season he has fell off to 14.5 points, 11.7 shot attempts while shooting 39%. 

Zach LaVine knows he’s the alpha male as he dominates this young, losing and bashful Bulls squad.  It’s time for the Bulls management to admit that the 2017 Jimmy Butler rebuild trade is a failure.  Trade LaVine so Markkanen, Carter Jr &/or Coby White are forced to step up and finally lead the Bulls out of hopelessness.  If not, Chicago will get more lottery balls in hopes of landing LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Cole Anthony or Deni Avdija. 

LaVine is an All-Star caliber player but he has proven that he cannot bear the burden of leading a young and unproven squad.  Since Zach LaVine is only 24, top 20 in scoring, top 15 in 3 pointers made per game and makes a modest $19.5 million per year; the Bulls won’t give him up without receiving an unprotected 1st round pick.  Here are 4 teams that need LaVine and can humble him into accepting a role as being the 2nd or 3rd option.

4. Detroit Pistons

Why do the Pistons need LaVine?

The Pistons haven’t won a playoff series since the days of Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton back in 2008 (Ben Wallace was with Chicago).  Detroit is currently drowning in mediocracy despite the return of Blake Griffin from injury, Andre Drummond putting up career numbers and Derrick Rose playing like a 6th Man of the Year candidate.  The Pistons have a couple of middle of the road wing starters in Tony Snell and Luke Kennard, which contributes to Detroit being a lowly 20th in the NBA in scoring.

In addition to that 1st round pick, what else would Detroit have to give up for LaVine’s $19.5 million?

The Pistons would have to trade away 5 players; Langston Galloway $7.3 million, Luke Kennard $3.8 million, Thon Maker $3.5 million, Sekou Doumbouya $3.2 million and Tim Frazier $1.6 million.  Most of those players wouldn’t last long on the Bulls roster except the sharp shooter Luke Kennard and rookie Doumbouya but the kicker of course is Detroit’s unprotected 1st round pick. 

Reggie Jackson has only played in 2 games this season but he’s scheduled to finally get healthy from a stress reaction in his back in the middle of this month.  A starting line-up that includes Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Zach LaVine and Reggie Jackson with D. Rose and Markieff Morris off the bench would significantly increase their chances of ending that 11 year playoff series win drought.

3. Miami Heat

Why do the Heat need LaVine?

The Miami Heat is the biggest pleasant surprise in the Eastern Conference as they are fighting off Boston and Philly to hold on to that #2 seed.  But can Miami sustain this success and win a playoff series or two with Jimmy Butler as their only player with star power?  Probably not.  LaVine and Butler will never be allowed to forget that they were traded for one another (LaVine came with Kris Dunn and #7 pick Markkanen and Butler came with #17 pick Justin Patton).  Now they may need to drop their inflated egos and join forces to become a scary team to face in the 2020 playoffs.

In addition to that 1st round pick, what else would Miami have to give up for LaVine’s $19.5 million?

Justise Winslow $13 million and for salary cap purposes Dion Waiters $12.1 million.  The Bulls could take a chance on Winslow to see if a change of scenery could rejuvenate his career and trade Dion Waiters whose contract expires during the summer of 2021 to a contender that can deal with his off the court issues.

A Heat starting line up with Jimmy Butler, Zach LaVine, double-double machine Bam Adebayo and all-rookie 1st team candidate Kendrick Nunn with Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and pleasant surprise Duncan Robinson off the bench would have Heat fans fearing no opponent in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

2. Dallas Mavericks

Why do the Mavs need LaVine?

The Mavericks are in a similar position as the Heat. A vast majority of hoops fans did not see the Mavericks competing for a top 3 seed in the Western Conference.  However, skeptics doubt if Dallas can sustain this high level of play with Luka Doncic as their only star.  Kristaps Porzingis has not picked up where he left off before he tore his ACL during that 2017-18 all-star season where he averaged 22.7 points and shot 39% from 3 point range.  After sitting out last season, The Unicorn’s numbers have dropped to 16.4 points and 33% from downtown.  Zack LaVine can bring that much needed firepower as Doncic’s ultimate sidekick until Porzingis gets his groove back.

In addition to that 1st round pick, what else would Dallas have to give up for LaVine’s $19.5 million?

Tim Hardaway Jr $18.1 million and Isiah Roby $1.5 million.  Hardaway Jr has only one year left on his contract after this season, so Chicago could move him again before the February 6th trade deadline or wait until this summer. 

With the addition of LaVine in Dallas, Porzingis playing more like he did with the Knicks and Luka maintaining his All-NBA Team level of play will establish the Mavs as legitimate contenders for the Rockets, Clippers and Lakers to take very seriously.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Why do the Sixers nee LaVine?

Philadelphia won’t have to worry about Zach LaVine dominating some bashful teammates due to the robust personalities of franchise players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.  A  LaVine addition to the Sixers would loosen up the Milwaukee Bucks stranglehold as the #1 contender in the East. The loss of JJ Redick’s shooting efficiency to New Orleans and Jimmy Butler’s scoring prowess to Miami has decreased The Sixers effectiveness from outside the paint.  The 76ers are currently 16th in the NBA in scoring (last season they were 5th).  Zach LaVine found out that lifting a young Bulls team to playoff contention problematic but he has absolutely no problem finding a way to put that rock in the basket through spot up jumpers, creating his own shot or highlight finishes in the paint.

In addition to that 2021 first round pick, (the Sixers won’t have a 2020 first rounder unless they miss the playoffs) what else would Philly have to give up for LaVine’s $19.5 million?

Josh Richardson $10.1 million, Zhaire Smith $3 million, Johan Bolden $1.7 million, Raul Neto $1.6 million, Shake Milton $1.4 million and Philly would have to also dip into that $4.4 million of Luxury tax cap space to make the deal happen.

Coach Brett Brown biggest Christmas wish is for Ben Simmons to shoot at least 1 three pointer a game but Simmons continues to play the role of Grinch by ignoring his coach no matter how naughty or nice he has been.  The Sixers must establish consistent outside shooting and scoring from the perimeter and that problem would be solved with a Zach LaVine acquisition.

Bulls 2019-20 Season Preview

Spectator Sporting Episode – 35

Who is the key player for the #Bulls to become this year’s pleasant surprise? What should concern Bulls fans the most headed into the season? Will the Chicago shock the #NBA with a playoff berth? Is there any hope for the Bulls future? All of these questions & more will be answered on Spectator Sporting!

#spectatorsporting

Bulls key player————-01:20-04:10

Bulls biggest concern—–04:13-07:43

Who should start at PG?-07:44-12:18

Playoffs?!———————–13:52-18:54

Is there any hope?———18:55-26:04

References

Music by Shawn Kruel, Kruel Beatz Entertainment. https://soundcloud.com/no-fefe-996794674

& Eddie Diaz. T.I.M.E.

Bulls Top 5 Players of All-Time, Acquired Through Free Agency

By Adewale Apata

When searching through the Bulls 52 year history, you’ll find that most of their greatest players were acquired through the draft. Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Artis Gilmore, Jimmy Butler and Toni Kukoc were all drafted by Chicago.  Then there’s a couple more guys that the Bulls acquired through a trade who are definitely on the top 10 list of greatest Bulls of all-time, Bob Love from the Bucks and Dennis Rodman from the Spurs.  Also, a draft night trade which is the best trade in Bull’s history as Jerry Krause traded Olden Polynice for Scottie Pippen during the 1987 NBA Draft.

But you’ll have a tough time finding great Bulls who were acquired via free agency.  There’s two requirements that a player must fulfill in order to make the greatest Bulls of all-time, acquired through free agency list:

  • This top 5 list does not factor in how the player performed prior to joining the Bulls or what he did after he left Chicago. This list only takes into consideration how the man performed as a Chicago Bull.
  • The player had to play at least 2 seasons for the Chicago Bulls.

Without further ado, here’s the list of the Chicago Bulls top 5 players of all-time, acquired through free agency.

stutteringhelp.com

#5. Ron Harper –Before signing with the Bulls, Harper was a dynamic scorer with the Cavaliers and Clippers averaging 19 points. But his offensive role reduced dramatically after signing with the Bulls in the summer of 1994 as Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc were the main scoring options while Michael Jordan was taking some swings in the White Sox minor leagues.  Harper’s role on the team became even less significant when Jordan came back wearing #45 on March 19, 1995.

However, when the Bulls were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs, Phil Jackson got an idea on how to use Ron Harper. In an interview with nba.com’s Ian Thomsen, Ron Harper said, “When we got to the playoffs and we played Penny Hardaway, a big guard, Phil said, ‘You’re going to start.  I want you to guard Penny.’”  In the next season, the Bulls had a record breaking 72 wins, swept the Magic and won their 4th NBA Championship.

Harper’s statistical output significantly declined due to him averaging 16.5 shot attempts with the Cavs and Clippers but all the way down to 6.5 with Jordan and Pippen on his team. His recovery from ACL surgery prior to joining the Bulls also slowed him down.  But his re-focused energy on the defensive end to contain the tall 6-7 superstar point guard Penny Hardaway and his harassment of hall of fame caliber smaller point guards like John Stockton, Gary Payton and Tim Hardaway with his 6-6 frame helped the Bulls establish themselves into a lockdown defensive squad on all levels.

 

chicagotribune.com

#4. Steve Kerr – The sharpshooting Kerr is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point percentage with 45.4% and he shot 46.6% from downtown as a Bull. His presence in the Bulls second 3-peat run allowed Jordan, Pippen and Kukoc plenty of space to operate with due to the opponent’s reluctance to double team and leave Kerr open.  John Stockton made that mistake in the closing seconds of game 6 during the 1997 NBA Finals when he left Kerr open to double Jordan then came the assist to arguably the best spot up shooter of all-time to give Chicago their 5th ring in 7 years.

In the closing seconds of game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Stockton wisely decided not to leave Kerr to double Jordan. But Byron Russell was left on an one-on-one island with the greatest hooper of all-time and Jordan flamed that jumper in his face to hand the Bulls their 6th championship.  After tough times with Cleveland and Orlando, Steve Kerr resurrected his career in Chicago and played a significant role in the Bulls second 3-peat.

nba.com

#3. John Paxson – Some Bulls fans may think John Paxson was always a Bull during his career in the NBA but he played 2 years with the Spurs before signing with Chicago in 1985. You might be wondering why Paxson is ranked ahead of Kerr on this list?  The answer is, Johnny Pax was better than Kerr in the Playoffs.  Steve Kerr was a better regular season player than Paxson averaging 8 points, 50% from the field and 46% form downtown vs Paxson’s 7 points, 49% from the field and 36% from downtown.  But Steve Kerr’s level of play dropped off in the playoffs as he averaged 5 points, shot 43% from the field and 37% from the 3-point line.  While Paxson’s level of play remained consistent in the payoffs as he averaged 6 points, shot 49% from the field and 38% from the 3-point line.

Both guys have game winning shots to clinch a NBA title under their belt: Kerr’s game winner vs the Jazz in the 1997 Finals and Paxson’s game winner vs the Suns in the 1993 Finals. But John Paxson had more clutch moments than Steve Kerr in the playoffs.  Paxson led the league in 3-point percentage for the 1993 NBA Playoffs by shooting an astounding 62.5%!  Also, I’ll never forget how Paxson caught fire in Los Angeles vs the Lakers in game 5 of the NBA Finals by shooting 75% from the field while scoring 20 points.  That clutch performance helped the Bulls celebrate their 1st ever championship.

hellisotherblogs.wordpress.com

#2. Carlos Boozer – The Booz Cruise gets a lot of flak in Chicago due to his lack of ability or effort on the defensive end. However, he was a solid offensive threat as a starting power forward on the Bulls best team since their dynasty ended in 1998.  The Bulls finally made it to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 playoffs and Boozer averaged 17 points, 9 rebounds and shot 51% from the field that season.  Booz played his low post scorer role well with the Bulls for 4 seasons.

hoopshype.com

#1. Pau Gasol – During the summer of 2014, Bulls fans were getting excited with the anticipation that Carmelo Anthony would join D. Rose, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah. But just like other superstar free agents in the past, he was just using the Bulls to ink a bigger contract from the Knicks.  So, the Bulls turned their attention to the 34 year old Pau Gasol.

Gasol was pass his prime but he still put up some very respectable numbers in his 2 years as a Bull. Pau Gasol averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assist and 2 blocks and made the all-star team in both his years in Chicago.  He’s the best player acquired through free agency in the 52 year history of the Chicago Bulls.

Will the summer of 2019 finally be the year that the Bulls sign an all-star caliber free agent in his prime? Or do they have to stick with just finding great players through the draft and trades?  The Bulls must develop their young core of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Wendell Carter Jr. because according to the Bulls history books, help is not on the way through free agency.

References

Basketball reference. (2018). Sports Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/

Carlos Boozer. (2012). Retrieved from https://hellisotherblogs.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/carlos-boozer-raps/

John Paxson. (1993). Retrieved from http://www.nba.com/top-nba-finals-moments-john-paxson-jumper-game-6-1993-finals

Kerr Shot versus Utah Jazz. [Tom Cruze/AP]. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/ct-bulls-steve-kerr-nba-finals-spt-0611-20170610-story.html

Ron Harper. (1998). Retrieved from https://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/ron-harper

Pau Gasol. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.hoopsrumors.com/2016/07/spurs-pau-gasol-finalizing-agreement.html

Steve Kerr in Bulls Pin Stripes. (1996). Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/519673244473941160/

Thomsen, T. (2015). “Harper Recalls Change from Scorer to Role-Playing Winner” www.nba.com/2015/news/features/ian_thomsen/02/25/ron-harper-once-lived-kevin-loves-tough-transition

9 Reasons Why the Bulls Matched the Kings Inflated Offer for Zach LaVine

By Adewale Apata

You may be wondering why the Bulls matched the King’s 4 year $78 million dollar offer to restricted free agent Zach LaVine.  He’s a player who tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in February of 2017 with the Timberwolves and only played 24 games last season as a Chicago Bull.  In those 24 games, his minutes was restricted to 27 per game, he averaged 16 points but only shot 38% from the field.  However, there are 9 logical reasons why Bulls Vice President John Paxson and friends matched the Sacramento King’s offer.

 

  1. The Bulls want Zach LaVine to grow and build chemistry with the young core of Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Last season was all three of those guys first season with the Bulls but they only played 12 games together.  Markkanen missed 14 games, Dunn 30 and LaVine 58 due to injuries and tanking purposes.  Their talents should blend in together as Dunn is a proven defender and drive to the basket type point guard, Markkanen is a stretch four with All-Star potential and LaVine is a scorer with highlight reel leaping ability.

    sparksports.io

 

  1. Before LaVine tore his ACL, he averaged 19 points, shot 46% from the field and 38% from the 3 point line. LaVine put those numbers up at the age of 21 in his 3rd season.  He only played in 47 games that season before tearing his ACL in February of 2017 but before he went down he was a legitimate rising star.

    kevinsporthk.com

 

  1. Zach LaVine is only 23 years old. No one knows if Zach LaVine is going to be a 20 plus points a game leading his team in scoring type of guy or a shell of his old self.  It’s too early to tell.  The only players on the Bulls roster younger than LaVine are Lauri Markkanen and the two rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison.

 

  1. Aaron Gordon got 4 years $84 million from the Orlando Magic as a restricted free agent. Both players

    indianasportscoverage.com

    were lottery picks in the 2014 draft, they will be 23 years old at the beginning of the season and both guys have a similar career high in points per game (Gordon 17 and LaVine 19).  Not only did the Kings set the market for LaVine but the Orlando Magic assisted the Bulls in determining his value with that Aaron Gordon contract.

 

  1. ACL surgery is not as bad as you think. I know Derrick Rose and the Bulls has never been the same since he tore his ACL in the 2012 payoffs.  However, former Bull Jamal Crawford tore his ACL in the 2001-02 season but missed only 4 games in the next two seasons and had a breakout 2003-04 year averaging 17 points and 5 assists. Kyle Lowry suffered the same injury at Villanova but now he’s a 4-time All-Star.  High flying Corey Brewer tore his ACL in his rookie year with Minnesota in 2008 but he maintained those springs in his legs after the surgery.  Just to name a few.  Players who are disciplined with their physical therapy program can overcome Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery with the assistance of the advancements in modern medical technology.

    nba.com

 

  1. The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler and their 2017 first round pick (#16 overall Justin Patton) for Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine.  Letting LaVine go to Sacramento would have hindered the Bulls chances of winning the Jimmy Butler trade. Not having LaVine in Chicago would put too much pressure on Markkanen to be a perennial All-Star and Kris Dunn would have been forced to be the number two scoring option.  The Bulls have kept that core of the three young guys intact with a legitimate shot to be contenders in the East through significant player development and an addition of an impactful free agent next off-season, now that King James is gone.

    dunkingwithwolves.com

 

  1. There’s an Injury protection clause in LaVine’s contract. The Sacramento Kings were inappropriately confident that the Bulls was not going to match a $19.5 million per year deal for LaVine, so they put an injury protection clause in the deal.  It turns out that the Kings were wrong about the Bulls willingness to pay up and they did the Bulls a huge favor by adding that injury clause in the contract.  This could save the Bulls organization loads of money if Zach LaVine is hit with another serious injury.

 

  1. The Bulls have plenty of salary cap space. According to Spotrac.com, the Bulls have the 3rd best practical salary cap space in the entire league.  Plus, another $18.5 million will be freed up in 2019 when Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday become unrestricted free agents.  Also, another $8 million will be available in the 2019 off-season when the Bulls decide to exercise their early termination option on Omer Asik.  Even though the Bulls overpaid for LaVine, they can still offer max deals to highly coveted players during the 2019 off-season.

 

  1. sportsmockery.com

    NBA stars in their prime don’t sign with the Bulls in free agency. Some guys may have thought that the Bulls should have pocketed that money and offered it to Klay Thompson, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins or Terry Rozier during the 2019 free agency.  The problem with that is the fact that superstars in their prime like Tracy McGrady, Carmelo Anthony and 2010 Dwyane Wade like to pretend that they’re coming to Chicago just to negotiate for more money from the team they really want to join.  Why?!  You can blame Bulls management, cold weather, the Chicago crime rate or whatever.  The fact of the matter is, the 34 year old Pau Gasol is arguably the best NBA free agent to ever play for the Bulls.  So, Johnny Pax knows that he must keep those young guys with potential on his team at damn near all cost.

References

Aaron Gordon. [Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports]. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.indianasportscoverage.com/wojnarowski-aaron-gordon-potential-offer-sheet-target-indiana-pacers/

Carmelo to Chicago. (2014). Retrieved from http://sportsmockery.com/2014/11/carmelo-anthony-chicago/

Jamal Crawford with Bulls. (2003). Retrieved from http://www.nba.com/history/uniforms_bulls.html

Jimmy Butler. (2018). Retrieved from https://dunkingwithwolves.com/2018/07/01/timberwolves-rumors-wolves-offer-jimmy-butler-max-contract/

Lauri, Dunn &LaVine. (2018). Retrieved from https://sparksports.io/nba/how-the-timberwolves-and-bulls-both-won-the-trade/

Zach LaVine. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nba.com/bulls/news/chucks-daily-check-21318

Zach LaVine with Wolves. (2016). Retrieved from http://kevinsporthk.com/en/products/Adidas-Timberwolves-%238-Zach-LaVine

No Top 5 Pick for the Bulls, No Problem

In my previous article ‘Bulls Race to the Bottom’, I revealed the top five 2018 NBA draft prospect: #5 Trae Young, #4 Michael Porter Jr., #3 Luka Doncic, #2 Marvin Bagley III and #1 Deandre Ayton.  However, March Madness is right around the corner and there’s 7 other players with an opportunity to increase their stock enough to be considered to be a top 5 pick.

Player Position School Year in School Ht Wt
12. Mikal Bridges SF Villanova Junior 6’7” 210
11. Mo Bamba C Texas Freshman 7’0” 220
10. Wendell Carter C/PF Duke Freshman 6’10” 260
9. Collin Sexton PG Alabama Freshman 6’2” 185
8. Miles Bridges SF Michigan State Sophomore 6’7” 225
7. Kevin Knox SF Kentucky Freshman 6’9” 215
6. Jaren Jackson Jr C/PF Michigan State Freshman 6’11” 240

Continue reading “No Top 5 Pick for the Bulls, No Problem”

Bulls Race to the Bottom

The Chicago Bulls trade of Nikola Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans for a few fringe bench players and most importantly a top 5 protected 1st round pick, accelerated the Bulls Race to the Bottom for more lottery balls in the 2018 NBA draft.  However, if you think General Manager John Paxson’s quest to have the worst squad is going to be easy, think again.  Here’s a look at the bottom 9 teams in the standings during the All-Star break.

Team W – L Percentage Games Back
30th Suns 18 – 41 .305
29th  Hawks 18 – 41 .305
28th  Mavs 18 – 40 .310 0.5
27th  Magic 18 – 39 .316 1
26th  Kings 18 – 39 .316 1
25th  Grizzlies 18 – 38 .321 1.5
24th  Nets 19 – 40 .322 2
23rd  Bulls 20 – 37 .351 3
22nd Knicks 23 – 36 .390 5

 

You can see the Bulls must become better at being bad as they currently have the 8th worst record in the league.  This race to the bottom will need a photo finish as only 3 games separate the worst 8 teams in the NBA.  The new NBA draft lottery reform does not go into effect until the 2019 draft.  Therefore, bad teams will try to take advantage of their 2018 draft lottery odds before significant changes are implemented next season.   Don’t be surprised if you see some of the worst teams sitting their best players and exaggerating their injuries in order to collect more losses for more lottery balls.

So, exactly who are the NBA’s worst teams racing for?  At this moment, the top 5 2018 draft prospects are:

#5 Trae Young Oklahoma Sooners, 6’2”, 180 – He leads the nation in scoring by putting up 30ppg.  Some people think he’s a shoot first and don’t ask questions later type of guy but he also leads the nation in assist by dishing out 9apg.  He has been compared to Stephan Curry due to his knack for getting hot from several feet behind the 3-point line.  Teams may shy away from Young because he will take some crazy shots, his defense is subpar and he looks shorter than his listed 6’2” measurable.  However, the guy is only a 19-year-old freshman and has plenty of time to improve.

 

How does Trae Young fit with the Bulls?  Bulls fans may think that Chicago should steer clear from Young since they already have Kris Dunn.  However, their attributes can complement each other, since Dunn is an awesome defender with a pass first mentality.

 

#4 Michael Porter Jr. Missouri Tigers 6’10”, 215This kid had a chance to be the number one overall pick before being out for the season after injuring his back during the first game of the season.  He has been compared to Kevin Durant due to his length, athleticism, shooting and dribbling ability at the small forward position.  But his draft position depends on his recovery from microdiscectomy surgery on his back.  “The most famous recent example of a basketball player to undergo a microdiscectomy is Dwight Howard.  Howard had the procedure done in 2012 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers (SBNation, Ricky O’Donnell, 2017).”  Lets take a look at Dwight Howard’s numbers before and after surgery.

  • Before Surgery 2004 – 2012 – 18.5 points, 13 rebounds & 2.1 blocks
  • After Surgery 2012 – present – 15.7 points, 12 rebounds & 1.6 blocks

You can see Howard’s stats did decrease but not too much for teams to be scared to make Porter Jr a top 5 pick.

How does Michael Porter Jr fit with the Bulls?  Perfectly, if he fully recovers from back surgery.  Throw Denzel Valentine on the bench and plug Porter Jr right there at small forward next to NBA all rookie 1st team lock Lauri Markkanen with Dunn and Zach LaVine holding down the guard positions.

#3 Luka Doncic Real Madrid, 6’8”, 225 At the moment, this Slovenian prospect is averaging 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in just 24 minutes a game.  He’s a big tall 19-year-old combo guard with good vision and scoring ability.  The knock on him is the bust potential that surrounds high profile international draft prospects.  Since 2009, only 7 international players have been selected in the top 5 of the NBA draft and the results have been underwhelming.

Player Draft Year Draft Position Rookie Year Team Home Country
Ricky Rubio 2009 #5 Timberwolves Spain
Enes Kanter 2011 #3 Jazz Switzerland
Jonas Valanciunas 2011 #5 Raptors Lithuania
Dante Exum 2014 #5 Jazz Australia
Kristaps Porzingis 2015 #4 Knicks Latvia
Mario Hezonja 2015 #5 Magic Croatia
Dragan Bender 2016 #4 Suns Bosnia

 

There’s a few decent rotational players on this list but Kristaps Porzingis is the only and will always be the only all-star caliber player on the chart above.  I guess that’s why they call him “The Unicorn”.  Luka Doncic must defy some negative high international draft pick odds in order to live up to the hype.

How does Luka Doncic fit with the Bulls? Doncic is a PG/SG but at 6’8” he’s big enough to guard small forwards.  He’ll fit right into ‘HoiBall’ with his solid passing and shooting ability.

#2 Marvin Bagley III Duke Blue Devils, 6’11”, 234 – Bagley is relentless on the boards at the power forward position and can finish with either hand after maneuvering with his decent post-game.  The big question with Bagley heading into the draft is, can he shoot the ball with efficiency outside the paint?  He’s currently shooting 35% from 3-point range and 62% from the free throw line.  He must continue to improve his shooting ability because he’s probably not going to be able to bully NBA big men for offensive rebounds like he’s doing in college.

How does Marvin Bagley III fit with the Bulls?  At 6’11” and 234 pounds, he’ll be a slightly undersized center next to Markkanen.  But he’s still growing at age 19 and will hit the weight room.  Plus most NBA teams are embracing that small ball, so he shouldn’t have much trouble during his transition to the pros.

#1 Deandre Ayton Arizona Wildcats, 7’1”, 250 – I’ll be shocked if this guy is not the #1 overall pick.  He’s a true center with an array of post moves and an excellent shooting touch from inside the paint all the way to the 3-point line.  Despite being double teamed nearly every time he touches the ball, he’s averaging 19 points, shooting 61% from the field, 74% from the Free throw line and 34% from 3-point range.  Teams will be terrified to pass on him at the very top of the draft due to his potential to have an impact similar to Karl Anthony-Towns and/or Joel Embiid.

How does Deandre Ayton fit with the Bulls?  Perfect replacement for Robin Lopez.  You can let Ayton work opponents in the post, pass out of double teams to an open Markkanen, pick & roll or pick & pop.  If Ayton can develop solid defensive awareness and continue to improve on his offensive talents, he’ll be a perennial all-star.

The Bulls will continue their race to the bottom of the NBA standings but like I illustrated earlier, they’ve got some serious competitors.  Over a third of the league’s general managers are deluding their rosters as much as possible to gain more lottery balls.  Time will tell who’s the best at losing.