Mark Strotman

Observations from the Bulls' preseason finale loss to the Raptors

Observations from the Bulls' preseason finale loss to the Raptors


Justin Holiday shines again

It's pretty evident who the leader of the Bulls is through the preseason. Whether he wanted it or not - and it seems like he did - Justin Holiday is the go-to man in Chicago. He finished his impressive presason with a 17-point outing against the Raptors, including 6-for-12 shooting, four 3-pointers, a steal and a block in 28 minutes. He even added four assists, showing some playmaking to go along with his scoring. He finishes the preseason averaging 17.2 points on 44 percent shooting, 57 percent (!!) from deep and 1.6 steals. He and LaVine will be fun to watch together on the wing.

Lauri Markkanen's jumper stays confident

Lauri Markkanen's NBA career got off to a rough start. But he's more than righted the ship. Gone is the 1-for-9 performance in his first outing, and in is the 11-for-21 he shot in his final two games. That included 7-for-12 from deep, and he even added seven rebounds on Friday against Toronto. Markkanen has plenty of weight to put on before he can hang inside - Toronto's tough interior pushed him around quite a bit in his 29 minutes - but this was another step in the right direction for Markkanen, whose back issues seemed non-existent.

Jerian Grant flirts with a triple-double

Jerian Grant was likely to earn the starting point guard job out of training camp even if Kris Dunn didn't get injured, and tonight would have solidified it. Grant had 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 27 efficient minutes. Though Kyle Lowry had his way (17 points in 26 minutes) that was more or less to be expected. But Grant was confident stepping into his shot, played aggressive on defense (two steals, two fouls) and found plenty of open shooters. The Bulls may struggle this season, but Fred Hoiberg has to be happy starting a backcourt of Grant and Holiday.

Bobby Portis: Some good, some really bad

Bobby Portis has had a not-so-great preseason, so it was nice to see him score 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grab four rebounds in his preseason finale. Then again, he played 18 minutes and somehow committed eight turnovers. Between losing balls in traffic, errant passes and some head-scratching decisions, it was tough to call Portis' night a success. He should find time on the second unit, but he needs to show improvement in all areas, not just scoring.

Antonio Blakeney gives it one (nine) last shot(s)

It'd be nice to see a great story like Antonio Blakeney stick on the Bulls' roster, and he made sure he was remembered in his final preseason game. In 20 minutes he took nine shots, hitting three for nine points. He didn't record any other stat but three fouls in his time on the floor, and was a -21 as the Raptors rode away with the win in the fourth quarter. But we're putting him here because there's a chance he can make the Bulls' roster, especially with LaVine out and Zipser potentially needing to miss time.

Last night an unbelievable Bears coin toss streak of success ended


Last night an unbelievable Bears coin toss streak of success ended

When the Minnesota Vikings won last night's coin toss and elected to defer, it meant Bears fans got a first look at Mitchell Trubisky right out of the gates.

But lost in that simple coin toss was that it ended a pretty wild winning streak the Bears had going.

Prior to last night, the Bears had won each of the last 15 coin tosses to begin games and overtimes.


Week 4 against the Packers:

Week 3 against the Steelers:

Also Week 3 against the Steelers in overtime:

Week 2 against the Bucs:

Week 1 against the Falcons:

Preseason Week 4 against the Browns:

Preseason Week 3 against the Titans:

Preseason Week 2 against the Cardinals:

Preseason Week 1 against the Broncos:

Week 17 last season against the Vikings:

Week 16 last season against the Redskins:

Week 15 last season against the Packers:

Week 14 last season against the Lions:

Week 13 last season against the 49ers:

OK, got that all? Want to go back real quick and cross-check the dates to make sure we didn't make that up? It's all real, and according to some math folks a lot smarter than us it's also really, really, really rare.

The odds of winning 14 straight coin tosses like the Bears did (thanks for the help, Internet) is 1 in 16,384! We checked our work and the formula is 2^14. Basically, there are two potential outcomes and the Bears had the coin flipped 14 times. That produces 16,384 different outcomes. The odds of the Bears winning the toss a 15th straight time was 1 in 32,768.

Pretty wild stuff. And the irony, of course, is that there was a 50/50 chance each week that the streak would be broken.

So shoutout to the Titans, who in Week 12 of last year won the coin toss against the Bears. They had no idea the kind of coin-toss juggernaut they knocked off.

Time for Trubisky and the Bears to start a new streak next week against the Ravens.

NBA GMs don't think much of the Bulls, but at least Zach LaVine is athletic

NBA GMs don't think much of the Bulls, but at least Zach LaVine is athletic

The annual NBA GM Survey is one of the more revealing pieces of content. For one, even though responses are anonymous it's one of the few teams we get real answers from general managers who more often than not keep their opinions and feelings close to the vest.

It's also a fun look into what general managers value, which players the fans and media may be overlooking, and where the future of the league is headed.

It also generated one of the best interactions on #NBATwitter ever:

Unfortunately for Bulls fans there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about in this year's survey. One of the great things about the survey is that it covers a number of topics, ranging from best teams to top players to most exciting rookies. That means fans of both really good teams and really bad teams have something to see on the survey.

Not so much in Chicago.

Of the 47 questions, the Bulls appeared on lists of just three, and Zach LaVine was the player on each. LaVine, despite tearing his ACL in February, was ranked as the third most athletic player in the NBA, receiving 10 percent of the vote. He trailed only Russell Westbrook (62%) and LeBron James (14%), so he was in pretty good company.

Maybe just a coincidence, but LaVine tweeted this out the same morning:

Also, at least one GM (GMs couldn't vote for their own players/coaches/team) liked what the Bulls did in the Jimmy Butler trade, as LaVine's name popped up under "also received votes" in the questions asking about the player most likely to have a breakout season and the most underrated offseason acquisition. Minnesota's Karl Towns, LaVine's old teammate, received the most awards for breakout player, while Paul Millsap was named the most underrated acquisition.

First-round pick Lauri Markkanen, also part of the Butler deal on draft night, did not receive any votes in the three rookie categories.

Potential first overall pick in 2018 Luka Doncic was named the best international player not in the NBA, and the Bulls could very well have a chance to draft him next year.