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NBA 2017-18 Eastern Conference Outlook: Bulls begin their rebuild without Jimmy Butler

NBA 2017-18 Eastern Conference Outlook: Bulls begin their rebuild without Jimmy Butler

CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Chicago Bulls' outlook...

2016-17 record: 41-41, 8th in East
Coach: Fred Hoiberg
Key additions: SG Zach LaVine, PG Kris Dunn, PF Lauri Markkanen
Key losses: SG Jimmy Butler, PG Rajon Rondo, C Jeffrey Lauvergne, PG Michael Carter-Williams
Projected lineup: PG Kris Dunn, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Denzel Valentine, PF Lauri Markkanen, C Robin Lopez

Biggest questions:

1. How bad will they be?

Chicago fought through some messy times last season to make the playoffs and earn the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They even went up 2-0 in the first round on top-seeded Boston, only to then lose the next four games and be eliminated. Instead of building on that, the Bulls decided to rebuild entirely. They traded Butler to the Timberwolves and now appear set on taking a few steps back to accrue top draft picks. Next summer is another strong draft, particularly at the top with Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter, Jr. available. The Bulls are expected to be among the worst teams in basketball, so we'll see if they get their wish with a top lottery pick.


2. What impact will the T'Wolves additions make?

The Bulls were part of one of the summer's biggest trades, but many feel they didn't get enough back from Minnesota for Butler, especially considering they gave up their own first round pick. In come Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen as the Bulls hope to build around a talented young core of players. Dunn had a rough rookie season after going fifth overall in the 2016 draft, Markkanen was picked seventh in June and LaVine is returning from a torn ACL, an injury that could keep him out until February. All present wild cards, but each represent a big piece of the Bulls' future.

3. Will Wade be around for long?

The Bulls still have Wade on their roster, but it's not clear how long the future Hall of Famer will be in Chicago. He opted in to the second year of his deal and is set to earn $23.8 million in 2017-18, yet recent reports suggest he could be bought out sometime either before the season or during it. Wade would then, many presume, join the Cavs or Heat. 

Wade still provides value even at 35. Last year he averaged 18.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 60 games. At this point, however, it's probably best for both sides for Wade to move on. That's a lot of money, but Wade wants to win and the Bulls aren't expected to.

More 2017-18 previews:

Toronto Raptors

Milwaukee Bucks



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Pistons, including John Wall's amazing blocks

Here are the best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 115-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

1. Much of the attention going into any Wizards-Pistons game these days will be on John Wall and Reggie Jackson, as the two have had a mini-rivalry over the years. It was a long night for Jackson, as you'll see throughout this post, and it started with this putback jumper by Wall that left Jackson in the dust:

2. Wall finished with 26 points, 10 assists and two blocks. Both of his blocks were amazing. The first was this one, on Tobias Harris who is a power forward:


3. Wall's 28 points were much quieter than in the season-opener when he was dunking all over everyone. In this game, though, he did have this sick layup on the fastbreak:

4. Bradley Beal was also an offensive standout with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. One of his best plays was this and-1 late in the game:

Here's a bonus clip. Beal (25 points) had a few nice crossovers that ended in missed shots. This was one of them:

5. Okay, here's the second Wall block. It was on Jackson and it came at the perfect time. This helped seal the win:


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John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

John Wall proclaims himself as the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history

If you have thought to yourself over the years that John Wall is very good at blocking shots for a point guard, then don't worry, he's fully aware. Wall, in fact, believes there has never been one better in the history of the game.

Seriously. Wall staked his claim after Friday night's win over the Pistons, one in which he had two jawdropping blocks; one against a power forward and the other with just 14 seconds left to help seal the victory.

"That's just me playing defense. I think I'm the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history. I'm trying to set records," he said.

First, let's look at the aforementioned blocks before we break down Wall's proclomation. The power forward who felt his wrath was Tobias Harris. Wall is 6-foot-4 and Harris is 6-foot-8:

The second block was as timely as it gets. If Wall doesn't swat this one away, who knows how the game turns out:

Wall understandably got some serious praise for those plays.

"Those are blocks that point guards are not supposed to make, but he has a special ability to make those plays throughout the game," head coach Scott Brooks said.

"It's the will to win, man," Bradley Beal said. "It's a timing thing. A lot of his transition ones, I will cut the guy off just so he can go block it. It's all about timing. He has great timing and great athleticism."

Now, for Wall's claim itself. There certainly aren't many guards who come to mind for shot-blocking. Dwyane Wade is known as being one of the best, but he's a shooting guard.

Wade, in fact, has the most career blocks ever for a guard with 802. Wall, though, has the second-most among active players at the guard position with 326. He's already 10th in NBA history for guards. Here is the top 10:

1. Dwyane Wade - 802*
2. Clyde Drexler - 719
3. Dennis Johnson - 675
4. Jason Kidd - 450
5. Kendall Gill - 432
6. Latrell Sprewell - 399
7. Jason Richardson - 367
8. Baron Davis - 360
9. Doc Rivers - 351
10. John Wall - 326*

(via Basketball Reference)

That's an excellent list of NBA names to be a part of. Only Johnson, Kidd, Davis and Wall are point guards, meaning Wall is already fourth all-time in career blocks at his position and the active leader. To set the all-time record, he will need 350 more to pass Johnson. That won't be easy, but it's feasible based on his career numbers.

Wall averaged 46 blocks per year in his first seven seasons. He would have to keep going at that rate for more than 7 1/2 seasons to pass Johnson. Given Wall is 27, he would have to still be blocking shots in his mid-30s.

It is certainly possible. Wall has averaged 0.6 blocks per game in his career and Wade is still at that pace now at Age 35. Wade, however, was averaging over a block per game in his prime, when he was Wall's age.

Wall may need to pick up his pace a bit to back up the claim he made on Friday night, but there's no denying that he's on track to at least make it interesting.