2016-17 Bulls player preview: Cristiano Felicio

2016-17 Bulls player preview: Cristiano Felicio

Chicago Bulls training camp is right around the corner, with the first preseason game coming Oct. 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Between then and now, CSNChicago.com will take a look at each player on the Bulls’ roster to preview and project their importance to the team as the Bulls hope to qualify for the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Player: Cristiano Felicio

Position: Center/Power forward

Experience: 2nd season

2015-16 Stats: 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 10.3 minutes

2016-17 Outlook: This could sound crazy but…had the Bulls not traded for Robin Lopez in the Derrick Rose deal, Cris Felicio could’ve been the Bulls’ starting center and it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.

In a theory, a second-year center making NBA peanuts would’ve allowed the front office to allocate more resources in free agency and the trade market to other pressing needs. But then again, the Bulls acquired Lopez and then signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade anyways, so the plan wasn’t hindered.

Felicio went from a big unknown, a guy who only played in garbage time if at all, to looking like a player as the Bulls’ season wound down in 2015-16, giving life to the front office’s words: “He can play.”

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His effect can’t be quantified in actual numbers since he didn’t play much, but in March and April, he had offensive ratings of 114 and 124 (points per 100 possessions). What makes him effective? He sets solid ball screens, rolls hard to the basket and considering he has great hands, it makes him an easy target on both screen-rolls and for offensive rebounds and putbacks.

Now, nobody’s suggesting he’s better than Pau Gasol or Joakim Noah. He just possesses attributes that didn’t serve as strengths for Gasol (physicality, rolling) and Noah (hands, finishing).

Felicio still needs time to develop and playing behind Lopez will allow him to do it at his own pace. But when one thinks of the young players on the Bulls’ roster, he could be the most dependable asset, as many others have a tendency to go higher but have much lower floors.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors


Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.