NBA Draft

NBA Draft Tracker: Alabama PG Collin Sexton

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Alabama PG Collin Sexton

While most NBA draft evaluators are focused on the group of talented big men at the top of the 2018 pool, Alabama point guard Collin Sexton should hear his name called somewhere in the Top 10 next June.

Sexton put on one of the most amazing displays we've ever seen during a Thanksgiving week tournament. The 6-foot-3 freshman poured in 40 points in a loss to Minnesota, scoring 17 points in the final 10-plus minutes while his team was forced to play 3-against-5 because of ejections and injuries. Even though the nationally-ranked Gophers knew the ball would be in Sexton's hands, they still couldn't stop him. Alabama actually outscored Minnesota during the 3-against-5 stretch, and that was due to the brilliant play of their point guard.

Since point guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball were the first two picks in 2017, there might not be a high demand at that position for teams selecting at the top of next summer's draft. Still, Sexton might be able to crack the Top 5 if he continues to play at his current pace. He's averaging nearly 25 points a game while shooting right around 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from the 3-point line. Sexton can create his own shot and is a good finisher at the rim.

It seems unlikely the Bulls would be interested in drafting a point guard with their high 1st-round pick after acquiring former Top 5 selection Kris Dunn in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota. Dunn is already an impact player on the defensive end and his offensive game has been better than advertised. The Bulls also have three other young PGs on the roster in Jerian Grant, Cameron Payne and Kay Felder.

Having an elite point guard is a requirement for contending teams in today's NBA, so whether or not teams have a primary need at that spot, a dynamic player like Sexton will generate a lot of interest as we approach draft night next June.

Ranking the top 5 NBA prospects

Ranking the top 5 NBA prospects

It's a bit depressing to already be looking forward to the draft before the calendar even turns, but welcome to the early stages of a rebuild. 

Given that the three-win Bulls will likely be racking up losses and ping-pong balls, Mark Schanowski ranked his top five NBA prospects to keep your eye on: 

1. Marvin Bagley III, Duke

Schanowski’s take: He’s a monster on the boards, and his shot will only improve. He’s also a better ball-handler and passer than expected.

2. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Schanowski’s take: Fits the new-school NBA with his ability to score, rebound and shoot the outside jumper.

3. Luka Doncic, Real Madrid

Schanowski’s take: Smooth guard with unlimited shooting range. Oh yeah, he’s only 18.

4. Colin Sexton, Alabama

Schanowski’s take: May not be a top-five pick, but Sexton can pour it in and should be the top poing guard selected. 

5. Trae Young, Oklahoma

Schanowski's take: He hasn't received the media attention quite yet, but he's been explosive in his freshman year. Sooner alumnus Stacey King approves. 

Watch the video above to see Schanowski's full analysis of his top five prospects. 

Michael Reinsdorf pleased with first phase of Bulls' rebuilding process

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AP

Michael Reinsdorf pleased with first phase of Bulls' rebuilding process

Bulls COO and team president Michael Reinsdorf is rarely one to make public statements, but Friday afternoon he stated he’s pleased with the state of the Bulls rebuild to date.

With a 2-8 record following Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Bulls own the third-worst mark in the NBA behind Atlanta and Dallas—which some would argue is right where the franchise wants itself to be.

Reinsdorf spoke at the United Center earlier in the afternoon, part of the NBA’s announcement that Chicago would be hosting NBA All-Star Weekend in 2020.

“The rebuild so far, I’m not normally the spokesperson on basketball stuff like that,” he cautioned. “We’re only a few weeks in. Lauri’s (Markkanen) playing really well. So far we’re happy. When Zach (LaVine) comes back, that’s going to be a big indication. Kris (Dunn) just came back from an injury.”

Of course, Markkanen and LaVine were the big pieces from the draft-night trade of Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves that jump-started this process. LaVine is a couple weeks away from practicing with contact after his ACL surgery last February.

Dunn is attempting to find his way after a preseason injury cost him two weeks of playing time and development.

Markkanen, especially in the aftermath of the Nikola Mirotic-Bobby Portis altercation last month, has stepped forward and established himself as one of the NBA’s top rookies.

“We have to see, but right now, we’re happy. The team is playing really hard. Fred’s got them playing really hard,” Reinsdorf said.

It was a public endorsement of sorts of Hoiberg, who’s had to endure questions seemingly every week since being named head coach two years ago, and then had to deal with the Portis-Mirotic mess.

The Bulls have only been blown out of one game this season, a home date against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and one would think Reinsdorf is pleased with at least the effort the team is putting out.

“It’s not going unnoticed,” Reinsdorf said. “There’s certain sports writers in this city that have written actually positive articles about the way the team is playing right now. I can look to the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times, hopefully the fans will start to take notice.”

Hoiberg said he keeps in regular contact with Reinsdorf but seemed to take the compliment in stride.

“The one thing our staff is focused on is playing better,” he said.

Reinsdorf pointed to the rebuilds of other franchises in town in the hopes fans will be more accepting of what the Bulls are embarking on.

“Because we know this isn’t necessarily about wins and losses this year, but we do want to make sure the team and the players are trying their hardest to win games and giving their best effort,” Reinsdorf said. “Because that’s kind of the mentality the city of Chicago has and the fans – work hard and let’s see what happens. As far as the rebuild, the Cubs did a great job with their rebuild, the White Sox are in the midst of their rebuild, and I think the fans understand that’s kind of the nature of sports.”