Preps Talk

Even missing in action, Chicago native Davis a hot topic

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Even missing in action, Chicago native Davis a hot topic

Chicago native Anthony Davis, the top overall pick in Junes NBA Draft, didnt get to make his happy homecoming to his hometown in the Hornets win Saturday night over the Bulls at the United Center. The University of Kentucky product suffered a concussion in New Orleans game Friday evening and didnt travel to Chicago.

Still, the big manan unknown, 6-foot-2 guard at a charter school on the South Side just a few years agohas already made a big impression. Although Davis didnt play Saturday, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau prepared for him by studying on film and was impressed by what he saw.

Amazing, Thibodeau described. Hes a really skilled player. Hes a basketball player. He does everything. He can shoot, he can put it on the floor, he can pass, play great defense, great timing, shot-blocking, great quickness. Hes going to be a great pro.

Davis was billed as a shot-blocking presence with raw offensive ability, but early in his NBA career, hes showed that hes retained his guard skills on the offensive end of the court. At 6-foot-10, he has perimeter skills, include the ballhandling and outside shooting of a much smaller player.

He can handle it. He handles it like a guard. He can dribble, take people off the dribble, pull-up jump shots. Hes got all of that, Bulls rookie Marquis Teague, a college teammate of Davis, said. At Kentucky, he just did what Coach Cal Kentucky head coach John Calipari asked him to do. Coach Cal didnt want him to do all that. He just played his role.

Chimed in Hornets head coach Monty Williams: He can dribble, but he doesnt dribble unnecessarily. Hell do the things necessary for him to make a play and thats what I like about him. Hes efficient. He had a play against Miami, where he went full court and laid it up, and then, there are times where hell make one or two dribbles and make the right play, and hes still learning. Ive talked to him about exploring his game, so that when the game does slow down for himits real fast right nowhell be that much better, and his handle may be an asset to him. Right now, hes just using it to get out of certain situations.

Hes certainly getting used to the physicality of the game. Im still learning who he is as a player because he shoots the ball better than I thought, really good footwork, can handle the ball, pass, he continued. Conditioning and strength will be big for him. The stronger he gets, the less hell have to think about being tired or not being strong as guys hes going against. Then, Ill think well see more because hes not tired. Young guys are so tired because theyre not used to it, still growing. I think hes got another inch of growth. Hes a coachs dream. He really is because he does everything you tell him to do and some, still got a competitive edge.

Williams thinks Davis experience with USA Basketball over the summer, winning a gold medal in the London Olympics and playing alongside veteran superstars accelerated his development.

It really did help him, being around better players and more experienced guys, especially Tyson Chandler, said the coach, citing the former Bulls draft pick, last seasons NBA Defensive Player of the Year. I thought Tyson was going to be the biggest impact on him, just teaching him how to play that position in the NBA and I saw some of the residual effect of that when he got back. He was ahead of the curve in pick-and-roll defense and some other things on the block, so that experience and the coaching, being around Coach K Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Nate McMillan, the ex-Portland head coach and Williams former boss every day had to help.

Williams expressed his disappointment about Davis not being present prior to the game, criticizing the leagues new concussion protocol. The coach spoke to the player after Friday nights game, as well as Saturday morning.

Hes okay, just has to go through the testing. Unfortunately, the NBA is strict on concussions. I could say a lot about that, but Im not; Ill refrain. But hell be okay.
You just do what youve got to do. I dont know to coach outside of dealing with Ive got to deal with every day. We have no idea when hes going to be back. Its one of those situations that the NBA, the doctors and the medical staff, they have a protocol that has to take place before guys can get back on the floor. The better he feels the next couple of days, it helps the situation, he explained. He got touched up a little bit last night. That happens a lot in basketball. Its just that now they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers. Its getting old, but its just the way the league is now.

This city should be proud of who he is, not just as a player, but as a person. I could tell he was down that he couldnt come last night and it wasnt any fault of his own, but the rules say he cant fly. Its a mans game, man. Were treating these guys like theyre five years old. He desperately wanted to come, Williams continued. Im not saying I dont like it. Weve got to protect our players, but I think the players should have more say-so about how they feel. Im sure I had four or five concussions when I played and it didnt bother me. I think the NBA is doing whats necessary to protect the players, but this is not the NFL. You dont get hit in the head that much. So, I understand it, but as a coach, Im a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play, so thats basically the bottom line. Im just a baby.

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show Roundup

CLASS 1A

Revealing the Class 1A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 1A Bracket

CLASS 2A

Revealing the Class 2A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 2A Bracket

CLASS 3A

Revealing the Class 3A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 3A Bracket

CLASS 4A

Revealing the Class 4A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 4A Bracket

Predicting Class 1A-4A

CLASS 5A

Revealing the Class 5A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 5A Bracket

CLASS 6A

Revealing the Class 6A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 6A Bracket

CLASS 7A

Revealing the Class 7A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 7A Bracket

CLASS 8A

Revealing the Class 8A Bracket

Analyzing the Class 8A Bracket

Class 7A and Class 8A Predictions

 

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

In ugly home opener, Lauri Markkanen gives a glimmer of hope

Keeping the game simple is often a tough task for rookies entering the NBA, but it seems Lauri Markkanen has been a quick learner in that aspect.

Through two games he’s probably the lone bright spot, especially after the Bulls’ cringe-inducing 87-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their home opener at the United Center.

Jumper not falling? Okay, go to the basket.

“It wasn’t falling so I tried to get to the rim a couple times,” Markkanen said. “At the end, I was like let’s do it and I connected on a 3-pointer, I felt more open just because I was at the rim. I think that helped.”

He was asked what the difference was in the second game of his career compared to the first.

“I mean the crowd was chanting for us (tonight),” Markkanen said, referring to Thursday in Toronto.

He wasn’t attempting to display any dry wit but applying common sense seems to work for him, even though he’s been thrust into a situation after an incident that doesn’t make any sense.

With Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic out for the foreseeable future, playing a game-high 37 minutes will be more common than anomaly.

“Whatever your minutes are, you gotta play them to the best of your ability,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s being allowed to play through some mistakes right now. He’s gonna play heavy minutes every night.”

He only shot five of 14 but achieved his first double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a 17-point, eight-rebound debut against the Raptors Thursday.

No, someone didn’t open a door for a draft to come into the United Center on that three-pointer that went wide left, but it didn’t stop him from being assertive and continuing to look for his shot.

There was plenty of muck, easy to see on the stat sheet. The 38 percent shooting overall, the lack of penetration, the 29 percent shooting from 3-point range and 20 turnovers.

It’s not hard to imagine what Markkanen will look like with competent and effective NBA players around him, along with a true facilitating point guard that will find him in this offense.

“Markkanen is a wonderful player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s aggressive, he’s smart and obviously, he can shoot the ball. He’s just going to get better and better as he figures things out.”

He received a crash course, facing the likes of Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay Saturday night. On one instance, Gay drove baseline and made Markkanen buckle with a 3-point play.

Aldridge had 24 shots in 32 minutes as a new focal point with Kawhi Leonard out with injury.

So he’s not getting treated with kid gloves, nor is he backing down from the assignments.

“He didn’t shoot the ball well but he battled,” Hoiberg said. “He had a tough assignment with Pau, who’s gonna be in the Hall of Fame one day. Good experience. He guarded Aldridge, Rudy Gay some. He battled, he fought them.”

Even with the airball, had the moment that gives the Bulls fans hope, when he drove on Gasol, spun and hooked a lefty layup while being fouled by the veteran in the first half—giving the United Center faithful something to have faith in for a moment.

“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s the label Lauri had,” Hoiberg said. “But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile, he can put in on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy that’s seven feet tall, someone his age. Yeah, he’s learning on the fly. He’s gonna have ups and downs, as young as he is. He’s gonna have some struggles at times. But he’s played pretty darn well for everything he’s been through, understanding two days ago he’s gonna be in the starting lineup.”

And for all the bad air around the Bulls right now, from the on-court product to the off-court drama that seems to follow them around like Pigpen, it would be even worse if Markkanen’s first two games had him looking like a corpse, or someone who would be a couple years away from reasonably contributing to an NBA team.

“He’s good, he’s very good,” Gasol said. “I like him. I like his game.”