Bulls

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

In the post: Healthy Bulls display great depth

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
12:20 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Kyle Korver, in his return to the lineup after dealing with a cyst in his left ankle, didnt have the most prolific scoring night, but had a solid all-around performance.

My legs felt good, my ankle felt good. I didnt have rhythm on my shot. I just kind of rushed my shot a little bit probably. It felt good to play basketball today again. Its been four or five days since Ive really played, so it was good, Korver told CSNChicago.com. Its everything. Shooting is legs and confidence. Your actual shot theres a whole bunch of great shooters that have got nasty form; you see all kinds of great shooters that you dont know what hand theyre shooting with half the time but your legs and your confidence, thats all of shooting and thats a huge thing and I know. The next few days, try to get some rhythm back.

Korver is a big believer in the Bulls second unit, feeling that aspect of the team is underrated. Oh, I think the bench is great. Once we get healthy, it will be even better. We have a lot of guys that can play. Omer Asik has really come along. Hes been a huge surprise for us. I dont think anyone thought hed be this good, this fast. When Booz comes back, Taj goes to the second lineup, too. Were going to be all right, Korver told CSNChicago.com. I dont think we lose anything when the second team comes in. Weve got a lot of guys that play hard, some veterans that know how to play and I think its going to be one of our strengths this year.

--James Johnson, an efficient double-figure scorer for the second straight game, told CSNChicago.com hes starting to find his niche with this years team after an up-and-down rookie campaign.

I felt comfortable. I practice with them every dayweve just been going as hard as we can, weve got good chemistry with each other, they dont mind me taking the shots and I dont mind taking the shots. Were out there playing as hard as we can, said Johnson. I want to be as physical as possible, but I just want to help the team, no matter what it is that I need to do. If I need to get physical, Ill get physical, but if I need to go get buckets, then thats what I have to do. But other than that, Im just doing me."

Johnson added a little bit of trash talk, saying the Bulls second unit is the team that beats first team most of the time, then asking fellow reserve Brian Scalabrine to confirm: Man, whos telling these stories? Scal, who wins first team or second team? See? Its a known fact. Thats okay. We know what happens. Just come to practice, man.

As for his coach, Thibodeau was pleased with the performance of Johnson, something that may have complicated his desire to figure out a set rotation to begin the regular season next week. I thought Johnson played very well, I thought all-around defensively he was very good, I thought he made quick decisions that were solid, said Thibodeau. I thought the team functioned well I thought a lot of guys played well but the rotation thing, thatll be something well study some more. Were not quite ready to make a decision on that and once we are, well talk to the players first.

--Ronnie Brewer is finally beginning to regain his mobility after suffering a pulled hamstring in training camp and his timing, showing he can be a playmaker on a Bulls team with only two true two point guards (Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson) on the roster.

These last two games, Ive been able to move a lot better. My shots still not where I want it to be. My legs trying to catch up to my body, but my hamstrings not really restricting me anymore and Im able to make cuts, slide and run the floor like Im supposed to do, Brewer told CSNChicago.com. I made a turnover today making a late decision trying to get him C.J. Watson the ball in the corner, but I feel comfortable handling the basketball, coming off pick-and-rolls if I get a rebound, pushing it up the court so I feel like if Im out on the court with D. Rose, if Im out on the court with C.J., Im comfortable with handling the ball and making plays for other people.

Dont forget to follow Aggrey Sam on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider

Joakim Noah has a new look and it's, uh, interesting

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USA TODAY

Joakim Noah has a new look and it's, uh, interesting

Joakim Noah played in only seven games for the New York Knicks this season, having last appeared in action on Jan. 23. A few weeks later, Noah was granted an indefinite leave of absence by the team.

So what's the former Bull up to now?

Well, apparently he's attempting to audition for one of the latest wild life survival shows.

In honor of Earth Day, Noah showed off his new look on Instagram:

Jah bless the earth

A post shared by Joakim Noah (@stickity13) on

"God bless the Earth and the trees and the sun," he says in the video.

No. God bless you, Joakim.

Why the Bulls should draft Deandre Ayton if they win the Lottery

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USA TODAY

Why the Bulls should draft Deandre Ayton if they win the Lottery

Something special occurred on the campus of Oregon University in late February. The Arizona Wildcats were in town, 24 hours removed from an ESPN report that claimed head coach Sean Miller had discussed paying $100,000 to land blue-chip prospect Deandre Ayton. The report shook the college basketball world, Miller took a leave of absence from the team and the Wildcats, ranked 14th in the country, became the lead story on sports talk shows for all the wrong reasons.

And the 19-year-old Ayton found himself at the center of the turmoil. Heading into Eugene, a place the Ducks were 31-3 at over the last two seasons, the Oregon student section mercilessly heckled Ayton all night, chanting “wi-re tap” and “hun-dred thou-sand” at the freshman star. The 7-foot-1 Bahamian could have crumbled in the moment. No one would have blamed him if he had.

Instead, Ayton dominated. He took over the game for 44 minutes, resting for 66 seconds in the first half before playing the final 26:37 of the overtime thriller. His final line – 28 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks – somehow didn’t do the performance justice. He made 11 of 15 shots, including 17-foot jumpers, offensive rebound put-backs, low-post moves and transition dunks. In a season of extraordinary for the Pac-12’s eventual Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year, that Saturday night may have been his most impressive, all things considered.

And it’s one of many reasons why, if that 5.3 percent chance becomes reality, the Bulls can’t pass on Deandre Ayton with the first pick in June’s NBA Draft.

Let’s begin with the raw stats. Ayton joined Duke’s Marvin Bagley as the only freshmen since 1993 to average 20 points, 11 rebounds and shoot 60 percent from the field. What’s more, only 10 others – regardless of year – had accomplished the feat, last done by Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2009. Four of those 10 were drafted first overall (Michael Olowokandi, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut and Griffin). So, spoiler alert, there’s precedent for a dominant big man being selected first overall. Ayton certainly could join that list, which we’ll note has a respectable success rate.

Those offensive numbers were compiled in impressive fashion. Ayton has been blessed with a remarkable skill set for a 19-year-old. Per Synergy, his 1.16 points per possession (PPP) ranked in the 98th percentile, and he did while playing out of position most of the season; Miller insisted on playing Ayton alongside 7-footer Dusan Ristic, which clogged up the offense at times. He’ll have more freedom in the NBA.

There’s no denying the 260-pound Ayton was a force around the rim, using his NBA-ready frame to overpower opposing frontcourts; he shot 76 percent from inside 5 feet (200 of 263) and ranked in the 90th percentile in post-up situations (1.05 PPP). But his game, like his frame, is NBA-ready, too. Ayton displayed an above-average jump shot, shooting 38 percent on 104 possessions; Kentucky’s Anthony Davis shot 34 percent on just 67 possessions in 2012. Ayton also spent more time as a pick-and-roll roller (14.6% of his possessions) than Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns or Joel Embiid in their respective college years.

He also expanded his game out to the 3-point line, attempting 35 triples in 35 games. That may not seem like much in “today’s game,” but consider: Joel Embiid (1-for-5), Karl-Anthony Towns (2-for-8) and Anthony Davis (3-for-20) combined for fewer made and attempted 3s than did Ayton in one year; Towns shot 42 percent from deep this past NBA season, Embiid made 66 triples with the Sixers and Davis has increased his made 3s each of his first six NBA seasons. Shooting can be taught, and Ayton is already ahead of schedule, even if he’s going to earn his money 15 feet and in. Ayton will jell in an NBA offense from Day 1. His game was made for the NBA.

That physically imposing frame made him a terror around the rim. Ayton stands 7-foot-1 and weighs 260 pounds; only six NBA players were listed at that size or taller/heavier. Ayton is as physically ready a rookie as we’ve seen in a handful of years.

It also makes some of his defensive metrics perplexing. Ayton’s block percentage, per KenPom.com, was 6.1%; Towns, Davis and Embiid all had double-digit block percentages. Ayton was also a liability defending the post, ranking in just the 34th percentile (allowing .919 PPP). And though some of these ugly numbers can be attributed to playing out of position, his motor has come into question and he looked out lost at times on that end of the floor. It’s certainly an area he’ll need to improve upon; it’s not enough to say he’ll roll out of bed and score 20 points. He’s got the easy part down, standing 7-foot-1 with a 40+-inch vertical. A strong defensive-minded coach will do Ayton wonders early in his career.

So why the Bulls? Well, as you’ll read a lot in this series, the team needs an injection of talent. Team need isn’t going to come into play much after Cristiano Felicio averaged 17.8 minutes per game. The Bulls need talent, and Ayton defines that. It also fits that Ayton would make for a near-perfect 1-2 punch with Lauri Markkanen, a fellow Wildcat. Ayton saw significant time as the “hi” man of Arizona’s hi-low sets with Ristic. With Markkanen maneuvering the perimeter, Ayton would be free to work 15 feet and in where he’s at his best. Having Robin Lopez as a mentor for a year would only improve Ayton’s game, and his pick-and-roll numbers would improve with Kris Dunn, who made even Felicio look serviceable.

Ayton is the best prospect in the class. There isn’t much else to say. As the series progresses we’ll need to make stronger arguments for prospects, but not with Ayton. He’s the best center prospect since Karl-Anthony Towns, and his offensive game is ahead of any frontcourt prospect with two eyebrows the last decade. Prospects like Ayton come along once every few years (Towns, Embiid, Davis) and he’s as close to a sure thing as there is in this draft. If, 10 years after the Lottery gods smiled down on the Bulls, lightning strikes twice, Deandre Ayton is the man to lead the Bulls back to contention in the Eastern Conference.