Bulls

Beyond the Arc: Bulls midseason report card

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Beyond the Arc: Bulls midseason report card

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011
1:34 p.m.

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

Now that the Bulls have reached the official midway point of the regular season, its time to hand out some grades for the job done by Tom Thibodeau and his players. If you dont agree, or would like to provide your own evaluations, please post your comments in the section below.

HEAD COACH TOM THIBODEAU: A

Honestly, Thibodeau should be one of the leading candidates for Coach of the Year right now. To have his team 15 games over the .500 mark at the midway point with Carlos Boozer missing 16 games and Joakim Noah missing 17 is truly a remarkable accomplishment. Thibodeau has been able to get all the players to buy in to his defensive system a lot faster than anyone would have expected. Right now, the Bulls lead the NBA in opponents field goal percentage, which is generally recognized as the best indicator of a teams defensive proficiency. Hes also given his guys a lot of freedom on the offensive end, which leads to a willingness to accept his demands on the defensive side. About the only criticism you can have about Thibodeaus performance so far is the difficulty hes had finding a more meaningful role for sharp-shooter Kyle Korver. Oh, and maybe Thibs should start cutting down on Luol Dengs minutes.

DERRICK ROSE: A

Really, what more could one player do! He would be my choice for the NBAs Most Valuable Player for the first half of the season. Rose is the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in both scoring and assists, and adding a consistent three point shot to his arsenal has made Rose practically unguardable. Rose has also put in a lot of work on the defensive end, which was one of his few weaknesses in his first 2 NBA seasons. Even with opposing defenses focusing most of their attention on slowing him down, Rose has been able to do just about anything hes wanted. His growth from year 2 to year 3 is remarkable. Hes clearly one of the top 10 players in the league, and has a legitimate shot at winning the M.V.P. award if the Bulls finish in the top 3 in the East with about 55 wins or so.

READ: Aggrey Sam's midseason report card

CARLOS BOOZER: B

Boozer has provided the low post presence the Bulls have been looking for since the early days of Eddy Curry. His offensive moves in the low post are even better than advertised, and even after missing the first 5 weeks of the season because of a broken finger, hes already averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. Boozer has also been a vocal leader, providing advice and encouragement to his younger teammates. His low post skills and leadership figure to be even more valuable when the Bulls head into the playoffs. Boozer is a proven playoff performer, and will excel in a half court situation when teams get fewer possessions per game. About the only knock on Boozer is his play on the defensive end, where hes often slow to help when a teammate gets beaten off the dribble. But you can count on Thibodeau to insist on Boozer showing improvement in that area as the season goes on.

LUOL DENG: A-

Deng has emerged as the guy Thibodeau leans on in almost every situation. Very few games go by when Deng isnt singled out in Thibodeaus post-game news conference for his ability to defend 3 positions, and for his versatility in the Bulls half-court offense. Deng has quietly averaged almost 18 points and 6 rebounds a game, and leads the team in minutes played. He gives the Bulls a reliable 3rd option on offense, and like Rose, hes much improved this season from 3 point range, converting on 35 percent from beyond the arc. Looking ahead to the playoffs, Deng needs to improve on his free throw shooting (only 71), and his ability to finish on the fast break.

JOAKIM NOAH: A

Before Joakim injured his right thumb, he was headed for a likely spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Like Rose, Noah added more offensive versatility to his game this season with improved moves in the low post and more confidence with his right and left hand jump hooks. He worked all summer with Thibodeau on his offensive moves and with trying to develop more consistency in his perimeter jump shot. As a result, Noah is now one of the more well-rounded big men in the league, and the Bulls figure to get a big boost when he gets back in the line-up in mid-February. Add in the intangibles that Noah provides with his all-out hustle and enthusiasm, and the Bulls should be hitting the playoffs with a deep and versatile team at both ends of the floor.

KEITH BOGANS: C-

Bogans was brought in late last summer as a reliable veteran who would be available for spare minutes in the event of a rash of injuries. But when Ronnie Brewer aggravated a hamstring injury just before training camp, Thibodeau decided Bogans gave him the best option of setting a good defensive tone at the start of games. And while Bogans has done a decent job defensively against opposing shooting guards, his inability to knock down open shots has forced the Bulls to play 4 on 5 and sometimes 3 on 5 at the offensive end, with Kurt Thomas really not looking to shoot either.

RONNIE BREWER: B

After a slow start because of the hamstring injury, Brewer has come on to give the Bulls exactly what they expected when he signed on as a free agent last July. Hes a reliable defender who gets points in transition and on inside finishes off the baseline. Brewer is not a consistent jump shooter, so hes not the best option for spacing the floor when Rose is in the game. But when you watch Brewer play every night, you can see all the subtle ways that he contributes to wins with his quickness on the defensive end and his ability to get his hands on passes and loose balls. Look for Brewer to play an even more important role as we get closer to the playoffs.

KYLE KORVER: B-

When you consider the Bulls committed 15 million dollars over the next 3 years to sign Korver as a free agent, its hard to believe he hasnt received more consistent minutes. Korver got off to a decent start from 3 point range, but his confidence seemed to sag as his minutes began to drop. Korver set an NBA record by hitting 53 from 3 point range last season, but hes just under 40 percent this year. Thibodeau doesnt seem to have a lot of confidence in Korvers ability to defend at either the 2 or 3 position. Maybe his 22 point outburst against Memphis will get Korver more minutes heading into the 2nd half of the season. He could be a very valuable weapon come playoff time.

TAJ GIBSON: B

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Taj will provide consistent, active minutes on the front-line. When Boozer had to miss the first 5 weeks of the season, Gibson did a great job of filling in at the power forward spot, even though his outside shot has been a little erratic at times. Now that hes settled in to a reserve role, Gibson has focused on his defense, rebounding and shot blocking. His timing and jumping ability allow him to defend taller and heavier players in the post. With the Bulls injury problems on the front-line, it would be a risky move to trade him for an upgrade at shooting guard.

READ: NBA Midseason awards from Aggrey Sam

KURT THOMAS: B

After not playing at all early in the season, Thomas has been a life-saver with Noah out because of injury. He grabbed 18 rebounds in a recent win at Indiana, and hes shown the ability to knock down an open 15 foot jumper. Never underestimate the value of a savvy veteran who knows all the tricks of the trade. Thomas will see his minutes drop dramatically when Noah returns, but dont be surprised if he becomes a part of Thibodeaus playoff rotation.

C.J. WATSON: B-

Probably miscast in the role of back-up point guard. Watson is a shoot-first guard who was able to get away with questionable decision-making playing on a losing team with Golden State. Now that hes only getting 10 to 15 minutes a game as a back-up to Rose, Watson has had to adjust to playing at a slower tempo and trying to get his teammates involved as the floor leader of the 2nd unit. Hes played much better in recent weeks after figuring out what the coaching staff expects from him, and that 33 point outburst in Denver when Rose was out with an injury was impressive to watch.

OMER ASIK: B-

For a guy who moved halfway around the world to come to the NBA, Omer has done a pretty nice job of adjusting to the NBA game. Hes already a force on the defensive end with his ability to block shots and rebound in traffic. Hes had a tough time figuring out how NBA refs will call the game, usually picking up a couple fouls in his first few minutes of court time. Asik has a lot of work to do on the offensive end, and often gets in trouble bringing the ball down to waist level before jumping to try to dunk the ball. Still, Asik has a lot of potential, and he could wind up being a shrewd investment in future seasons.

JAMES JOHNSON: INC.

The 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft basically is just a spectator this season. Thibodeau told him at the end of training camp he would not be a part of the rotation, and except for blowouts, thats exactly what has happened. Maybe the Bulls should send him to the D-League to get some playing time.

BRIAN SCALABRINE: B

By all accounts, this guy is an excellent teammate, who works hard in practice and has an encouraging word for everyone he meets. Just like in Boston, hes become a fan favorite at the United Center. Scalabrine knows Thibodeaus defensive system from their years together in Boston, so if hes every needed for short minutes, hell be prepared and able to contribute.

GENERAL MANAGER GAR FORMAN: A-

Forman and John Paxson did an excellent job of putting the roster together last summer. Sure, they werent able to get LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, but Boozer has been a great fit in the Bulls offense, and the other free agents that were signed have settled in to productive roles in Thibodeaus system. The key for the 2nd half of the season will probably be the play of Korver. If he can return to his record-setting 3 point shooting of a year ago, the Bulls should have the floor balance to attack just about any team they face. But if Korver struggles, Forman may have to consider trading the valuable Gibson in a package to acquire an upgrade at the shooting guard spot. Because of the Bulls salary cap situation, making a meaningful trade will be extremely difficult, but you can bet Forman and Paxson will be on the phone up until the February 24th trade deadline to look for ways to improve the team heading into the playoffs.

So, what do you think? Please post your comments in the section below, or feel free to send me an e-mail.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.

NBC Sports Chicago announces Bulls expanded season-long multi-platform coverage details

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NBC Sports Chicago announces Bulls expanded season-long multi-platform coverage details

NBC Sports Chicago’s 46-Game Bulls Regular Season Game Schedule gets underway with the 2017-18 SEASON OPENER at the Eastern Conference rival Toronto Raptors this Thursday, October 19!

Live streaming coverage of EVERY Regular Season Bulls telecast on NBC Sports Chicago – including all Pre/Post-Game Shows –

to be made available to authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app!

SEASON OPENER coverage on October 19 to feature morning practice updates on Facebook Live, “Bulls Pre/Postgame Live,”

a new Bulls season preview PODCAST, plus - expanded social media coverage via every NBC Sports Chicago portal all day/night!

NEW THIS SEASON: NBC Sports Chicago to carry “Bulls Pre/Postgame Live” before/after EVERY GAME (including all games airing on WGN and ESPN)!

NEW THIS SEASON: Bulls Legend/Four-Time NBA Champion HORACE GRANT to join NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Coverage Team!

NBCSportsChicago.com to feature in-depth reporting from Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill; Live Coverage of Every Postgame Press Conference,

“BullsTalk Podcasts,” Expanded Game Highlights, plus 24/7 Twitter updates from NBC Sports Chicago’s crew of Bulls experts and much more!

“Bulls Season Preview” special airs TONIGHT at 9:30 PM CT!

Chicago, IL (October 17, 2017)NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Bulls, is once again ready to deliver another thrill-packed season of NBA excitement with 46 live regular season Bulls games, which includes live streaming to authenticated subscribers via NBCSportsChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.  NBC Sports Chicago is also announcing the addition of Bulls legend/four-time NBA Champion HORACE GRANT to its Bulls coverage team, plus – for the first time ever – LIVE pre/postgame coverage for EVERY Bulls telecast (including games airing on WGN and ESPN), and much more!

The 2017-18 Chicago Bulls regular season on NBC Sports Chicago gets underway with the SEASON OPENER at the Eastern Conference rival Toronto Raptors on Thursday, October 19 with expanded, day-long multi-platform coverage; note the following details (all non-game programming also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers 24/7 at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive):

  • (MORNING) Breakfast with the Bulls – NBC Sports Chicago will get the day started with an early morning Bulls practice report from the Air Canada Centre.  Hosted by NBCSportsChicago.com’s Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill, Breakfast with the Bulls will be streamed “exclusively” on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago). Interviews with Bulls players/coaches can be seen on NBC Sports Chicago’s Facebook page later in the morning.
  • (THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE AFTERNOON/EVENING)In addition to Facebook (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) and Twitter (@NBCSChicago & @NBCSBulls), NBC Sports Chicago’s social media outlets will provide fans with a multitude of Opening Night “Sights & Sounds” moments from ‘NBCSChicago’ via Instagram and Instagram Stories. Plus, fans can look forward to a brand new “Season Preview” Bulls Talk PODCAST (NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts) hosted by the network’s team of Bulls experts.
  • 5:00 PM – “5 at 5” on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) – Fans can look forward to a special Bulls Opening Night preview on NBC Sports Chicago’s popular “5 at 5” segment on Facebook Live featuring Bulls Pre/Postgame Live host Mark Schanowski, studio analysts/former Bulls standouts Kendall Gill and Will Perdue, along with Bulls digital reporter/producer Mark Strotman discussing the Top 5 hottest Bulls/NBA topics heading into the season opener in Toronto.
  • 6:00 PM – Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light – Opening Night coverage gets underway with Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light featuring host Mark Schanowski, along with analysts Kendall Gill and Will Perdue.  In addition to up-to-the-minute pre-game reports from NBCSportsChicago.com’s Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill from Air Canada Centre, this half-hour show will feature a complete player match-up breakdown, interviews with Bulls players and coaches, along with a look around the league at additional games taking place during the NBA’s opening week of action.
  • 6:30 PM – 2017/18 NBA SEASON OPENER – Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors – Featuring the always-entertaining announcing tandem – entering their 10th season together – of Neil Funk and Stacey King.  ALSO – NBC Sports Chicago will carry Metro PCS Bulls Halftime Live on a special Facebook Live segment (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) featuring Schanowski, Gill, and Perdue, which will urge fans to send along their comments and questions to the studio team.
  • 9:00 PM – Sprint Bulls Postgame Live (time approx.) – Hosted by Schanowski, Gill, and Perdue, Sprint Bulls Postgame Live will provide fans with a thorough game recap/highlights/analysis, plus live post-game press conferences and player interviews, along with preview of the Bulls home opener on Saturday vs. San Antonio.
  • 9:30 PM – In the Loop presented by GMC (time approx.)  Expanded “Opening Night” recap, along with the latest hot topics, highlights, and can’t miss videos from the day in sports.
  • 12:30 AM – Bulls at Toronto (game replay)

In addition to its Season Opener coverage, NBC Sports Chicago has announced it will begin providing its viewers with surrounding Bulls Pre/Postgame Live coverage for EVERY game (home and road) on the Bulls schedule, which includes local broadcast Bulls telecasts airing on WGN-TV, along with exclusive national games airing on ESPN.  These additional airings of Bulls Pre/Postgame Live will feature primary host Mark Schanowski and primary analyst Kendall Gill, along with Will Perdue for a number of select non-NBC Sports Chicago Bulls game telecasts.  NOTE: Due to live game programming airing on the main NBC Sports Chicago channel location on occasion, a number of Bulls Pre/Postgame Live editions will air on the network’s alternate channel, NBC Sports Chicago+.

ALSO – beginning this season, NBC Sports Chicago welcomes its newest studio analyst as Bulls legend/four-time NBA Champion HORACE GRANT joins the Bulls Pre/Postgame Live crew for a number of select games on the network’s Bulls season schedule.  Grant, known for his trademark on-court goggles, spent 17 standout seasons in the NBA as one of the league’s dominant power forwards and helped guide the Bulls with his fellow teammates Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen to three consecutive NBA titles (1991, 1992, 1993). 

Throughout the season, EVERY Bulls game telecast airing on NBC Sports Chicago, including surrounding Bulls Pre/Postgame Live coverage, will be accessible live via NBCSportsChicago.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about NBC Sports Chicago’s live streaming service of Bulls games, viewers are urged to visit the following link: nbcsportschicago.com/live-faq

In addition, airing TONIGHT at 9:30 PM CT on NBC Sports Chicago, Bulls fans can look forward to a special sneak preview of the 2017-18 NBA season with the Bulls Season Preview presented by Coors Light special.  Hosted by Schanowski, along with analysts Gill, Perdue, and Goodwill, this half-hour special, filled with player/coaches interviews and detailed season preview analysis, will provide viewers with a comprehensive look at this year’s Bulls roster and all the off-season trades & acquisitions that will have fans ready to go for the Opening Night tip-off.  The Bulls Season Preview special is also scheduled to re-air tonight at 10:30 PM.

In addition to its live stream of every NBC Sports Chicago Bulls game telecast, NBCSportsChicago.com will also provide fans with even more exclusive Bulls content throughout the season including the following:

  • NBCSportsChicago.com will stream EVERY Bulls home postgame press conference LIVE providing insider access to head coach Fred Hoiberg.
  • Bulls “Insider” Vincent Goodwill returns for his third full season on the beat. Follow him on Twitter @vgoodwill for the latest team/player news and inside access 24/7. Bulls digital reporter/producer Mark Strotman (@markstrot) will also provide Bulls and NBA reports/features on the beat with Goodwill. Follow @NBCSBulls on Twitter for full team coverage, giveaways, fan photos and game day news throughout the 2017-18 NBA campaign.
  • Video highlights from every Bulls game, including in-game highlights at halftime.  Pre-game interviews from team practices will also be provided, as well as extensive post-game reaction from the locker room and analysis from the “Sprint Bulls Postgame Live” team. Fans can also check out the network’s fast-paced “Bulls in 60 presented by Sprint,” a comprehensive highlight package on NBCSportsChicago.com and across the network’s social media channels.
  • Weekly analytical features chronicling the Bulls and league-wide data of interest including the “Honda Road Ahead” and “NBA Power Rankings,” presented by WOW!
  • “Bulls Talk PODCAST” – Featuring Bulls Pre/Postgame Live host Mark Schanowski, analyst Kendall Gill, “Insider” Vincent Goodwill, digital reporter/producer Mark Strotman, and an array of special guests, NBC Sports Chicago’s “Bulls Talk” podcast features in-depth Bulls discussion on the hottest topics and breaking news throughout the season. Fans can download all of NBC Sports Chicago’s podcasts at NBCSportsChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
  • Push Alerts: NBC Sports Chicago will deliver Bulls push notifications for breaking team and player news, “Insider” reports, plus game reminder alerts via NBC Sports Chicago’s SportsTalk app for iOS and Android devices.
  • BullsTalk (NBCSportsChicago.com/Bulls) - NBCSportsChicago.com’s high-velocity, real-time, comprehensive Bulls news and opinion section featuring original commentary, reporting and social media aggregation. BullsTalk contains interactive content with continually updated insights from the network’s talent, which includes the #BullsTalk podcast.
  • Fans can also follow and connect with NBC Sports Chicago’s extensive Bulls coverage on Facebook (including numerous “Facebook Live” segments with NBC Sports Chicago talent), Instagram and Snapchat at ‘NBCSChicago’

 

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

NBCSportsChicago.com/NBC Sports app

2017 - 2018 Chicago Bulls Schedule

REGULAR SEASON

  1. Thu, Oct 19          @ Toronto                                6:30 pm         SEASON OPENER!
  2. Tue, Oct. 24         @ Cleveland                             6:00 pm
  3. Wed, Nov. 1         @ Miami                                  6:30 pm
  4. Sat, Nov. 4           vs. New Orleans                       7:00 pm        
  5. Fri, Nov. 10          vs. Indiana                               7:00 pm        
  6. Sat, Nov. 11         @ San Antonio                         7:30 pm
  7. Wed, Nov. 15       @ Oklahoma City                     7:00 pm
  8. Sun, Nov. 19        @ Phoenix                               7:00 pm
  9. Wed, Nov. 22       @ Utah                                    8:00 pm         NBCSCH+
  10. Fri, Nov. 24          @ Golden State                        9:30 pm
  11. Fri, Dec. 1            vs. Sacramento                        7:00 pm
  12. Wed, Dec. 6         @ Indiana                                6:00 pm        
  13. Fri, Dec. 8            @ Charlotte                              6:00 pm
  14. Fri, Dec. 15          @ Milwaukee                            7:00 pm
  15. Mon, Dec. 18        vs. Philadelphia                         7:00 pm
  16. Wed, Dec. 20       vs. Orlando                              7:00 pm
  17. Sat, Dec. 23         @ Boston                                 6:30 pm
  18. Tue, Dec. 26        @ Milwaukee                            7:00 pm        
  19. Wed, Dec. 27       vs. New York                            7:00 pm
  20. Sun, Dec. 31        @ Washington                          2:30 pm
  21. Wed, Jan. 3          vs. Toronto                               7:00 pm
  22. Fri, Jan. 5             @ Dallas                                  7:30 pm         NBCSCH+
  23. Mon, Jan. 8          vs. Houston                              7:00 pm        
  24. Wed, Jan. 10        @ New York                             6:30 pm
  25. Mon, Jan. 15        vs. Miami                                 2:30 pm        
  26. Mon, Jan. 22        @ New Orleans                        7:00 pm
  27. Fri, Jan. 26           vs. Los Angeles Lakers             7:00 pm
  28. Sun, Jan. 28         vs. Milwaukee                           2:30 pm        
  29. Wed, Jan. 31        @ Portland                               9:00 pm
  30. Sat, Feb. 3           @ Los Angeles Clippers            2:30 pm
  31. Wed, Feb. 14       vs. Toronto                               7:00 pm
  32. Thu, Feb. 22         vs. Philadelphia                         7:00 pm
  33. Tue, Feb. 27         @ Charlotte                              6:00 pm
  34. Mon, Mar. 5         vs. Boston                                7:00 pm
  35. Wed, Mar. 7         vs. Memphis                             7:00 pm
  36. Tue, Mar. 13        vs. Los Angeles Clippers           7:00 pm
  37. Sat, Mar. 17         vs. Cleveland                            7:00 pm        
  38. Wed, Mar. 21       vs. Denver                                7:00 pm
  39. Fri, Mar. 23          vs. Milwaukee                           7:00 pm
  40. Sat, Mar. 24         @ Detroit                                 6:00 pm        
  41. Fri, Mar. 30          @ Orlando                               6:00 pm
  42. Sun, Apr. 1           vs. Washington                         2:30 pm
  43. Tue, Apr. 3           vs. Charlotte                             7:00 pm
  44. Sat, Apr. 7            vs. Brooklyn                             7:00 pm
  45. Mon, Apr. 9          @ Brooklyn                              6:30 pm
  46. Wed, Apr. 11        vs. Detroit                                7:00 pm

23 Home, 23 Road regular season games

Total: 46 games

All Times Central Time

Schedule Subject to Change

20 crazy (or are they...?) predictions for the NBA season

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USA TODAY

20 crazy (or are they...?) predictions for the NBA season

1. The Golden State Warriors will be better than ever this season and will repeat as NBA champions...but will have big time bumps on the road in the Western Conference.

2. Kevin Durant will be better and win his second Most Valuable Player award, even though Steph Curry is still the arbiter for Golden State’s culture.

3. LeBron James will add to his resume as being one of the top five players ever, if not higher, but won’t catch Michael Jordan for total MVPs (five)...

4. ...and Cleveland had better enjoy him this year, because come July, he’s headed out of Ohio.

5. Speaking of headed out of town, a coach will be fired after a year of leaguewide stability, for an underachieving team in the underachieving Eastern Conference...

6. ...In other words, Fred Hoiberg is safe!

7. The Eastern Conference tank-a-thon will be both ugly and necessary for a couple teams in desperate need of lottery luck, including the Bulls.

8. One of the tank-a-thon teams won’t have the stomach for the losing and will make a panic move, especially when incoming college stars Michael Porter Jr or Marvin Bagley show the slightest signs of struggling.

9. Lonzo Ball will look like a point guard in the mold of Jason Kidd, a guy everyone will flock to play with...and not even LaVar Ball can screw that up.

10. But he’ll try because he won’t shut up...and we’ll never stop listening.

10. Dennis Smith Jr. will be the best incoming rookie, but Ben Simmons will win Rookie of the Year in Philadelphia.

11. Kyrie Irving will formally enter the conversation as one of the league’s best point guards, in part because Brad Stevens will help him become a better facilitator...

12. Irving is (bear with me Chicago’s own Isiah Thomas) the greatest scorer in terms of skill set from the point guard spot in the history of the league

13. For different reasons, Russell Westbrook and James Harden will struggle with their new “helpful” teammates…But will be hell on earth in a seven-game series.

14. Remember this name: Caris Levert from the Brooklyn Nets.

15. Giannis Antetokounmpo was on my top-five MVP ballot last season…he’ll be higher this time around.

16. Jabari Parker will be traded from the Bucks this year, perhaps before he returns from injury…

17. Big names will be on the trading block from the center spot: DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond.

18. Drummond, though, will have a bounceback year in Detroit and improve from the free-throw line.

19. This year will prove the Bulls didn’t get enough in trading Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves (or TimberBulls/TimberTibs)...

20. But Zach LaVine will show he’s more than deserving of a max contract when he returns from injury.