Bulls

Would Bill Walsh have drafted Whitney Mercilus?

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Would Bill Walsh have drafted Whitney Mercilus?

The Bears are looking to land an impact edge pass rusher somewhere in the draft, possibly with their first pick at or around No. 19. One of the names being considered is defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who recorded 16 sacks last season for Illinois.

The late Bill Walsh, renowned for draft success in building the San Francisco 49ers dynasty, would have advised caution.

Nothing personal about Mercilus, a young man of solid character and good on-field attitude.

But Walsh had a belief that one-year wonders (Mercilus had one sack in each of his two previous seasons) were not where you should go, with the hope that the jaw-dropping one season will be the norm.

Walshs commandment: "Never take the one-year wonder and look forward; take the one-year wonder and look back."

NFL.coms Mike Lombardi, longtime NFL executive and one who worked with Walsh, explained that and five other draft axioms followed by Walsh.

Lombardi explains the one-year issue:

After Walsh was burned by a one-year wonder in the 1987 draft -- Clemson running back Terrence Flagler -- he became skeptical of limited track records. If a good coach was unable to get a player to produce before his final season with the program, how could he expect to get consistent effort at the NFL level? In a similar vein, former Georgetown coach John Thompson has explained a scenario on the recruiting trail that I love to reference. When the parents of a prospective recruit would ask Thompson to make sure their son attended classes, despite his spotty attendance in high school, Thompson always responded with a simple question: "If you can't get him to go, what makes you think I can?"

Thompsons perspective is notable as well. Coaches and talent evaluators can fall into over-believing in themselves and their ability to get something out of a player that no one else ever did that somehow the player will be better under them than he ever was before.

It can happen; players have been in wrong systems (Brett Favre under Jerry Glanville was never going to see the field).

But is a player like Chandler Jones, an edge rusher with 10 sacks over his three years at Syracuse, going to step into the NFL and start producing 10 a year?

Jared Allen had 4-6.5-10.5-17.5 in his four seasons at Idaho State (he lasted until the fourth round). Reggie White still holds the Tennessee records for sacks in a game, season and career. Bill Tobin scouted Richard Dent at Tennessee State and came away convinced hed seen the best pass rusher the Bears would ever have.

Not that a one-year flash cant be a keeper. Some players take longer to fully develop physically or maybe a light finally went on.

But buyer beware..

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.