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.