Bulls

NBA Draft Tracker: Duke PF Marvin Bagley III

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Duke PF Marvin Bagley III

Bulls fans have heard the phrase more than a few times,: “Secure the Bagley.” As in, secure Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III. The 18-year-old Bagley might be the top player available in a loaded 2018 draft. At 6-foot-11, 234 pounds, the lanky lefty is already drawing comparisons to former NBA All-Star Chris Bosh because of his smooth scoring ability in the post and from the perimeter.

Bagley’s instant success at the Division I level is even more impressive considering he was originally supposed to be a high school senior before getting reclassified to become eligible at Duke. Going up against one of the most demanding schedules in college basketball, Bagley is averaging more than 22 points and 11 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.6 percent from the field. He’s amazingly quick off his feet for a big man, capable of putting back offensive rebounds with multiple jumps or rejecting shots on the defensive end. And the scary thing is, he’s probably not done growing!

Bagley might not have Bosh’s 3-point shooting range just yet, but he’s making a respectable 34 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. And remember, Bosh was primarily a low post player during his early years in Toronto. NBA scouts are confident Bagley will develop into a consistent outside threat, making his versatile low post game even tougher to defend.

How does Bagley fit for the Bulls? Well, a player as talented as Bagley would be a great fit on all 30 NBA teams. His height and skill set can make him a weapon on the defensive end, protecting the rim as a post defender while using his speed and quickness to switch out on perimeter players. And that same skill set will make him a nightmare cover for opposing power forwards and centers. Yes, the Bulls have depth at the power forward spot, but there’s no reason why Bagley and Lauri Markkanen couldn’t play effectively together. Both are tall enough to defend in the post and both have the shooting range to knock down triples. In today’s position-less NBA, having two versatile athletes in the 7-foot range could be a pretty formidable weapon.

Problem is, unless the Bulls win one of the top picks in the draft lottery, Bagley will be long gone. At the midway point of the college season, Bagley, Deandre Ayton and International guard Luka Doncic are getting the most attention as possible No. 1 overall picks in June. Team needs could play a role in which player eventually goes first, but one of the franchises lucky enough to earn a top-3 pick will be able to tell their fans they have “secured the Bagley.”

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

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NBC SPORTS

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.

NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.

He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.

Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.