Blackhawks breakdown: Patrick Kane


Blackhawks breakdown: Patrick Kane

Patrick Kane played in all 82 games and averaged 20 minutes and 12 seconds per game in 2011-12. He scored 23 goals and had 43 assists for 66 points and finished plus-7. Four of his goals and eight assists came on the power play and five goals were game winners. In the playoffs, Kane failed to score a goal in six games while picking up four assists and finishing plus-1.

Boden's take: We won't go into any long dissertation here about Cinco de Mayo weekend and how upset management was about having to see stuff like that all over again. The bottom line is this: he had the worst statistical season of his career. Yes, it probably took the first several weeks to get his surgically-repaired wrist up to speed. Yes, he got shuffled back and forth between center and wing. And yes, he came through when he was needed most -- down the stretch with his buddy sidelined, helping fill the huge hole the absence of Jonathan Toews left. And even though he was kept off the scoresheet, I don't believe he had a bad playoff series against Phoenix. But like most of the rest of the team, he fell short of "good."

Myers' take: You could imagine our surprise late in the preseason, when coach Joel Quenneville announced in Detroit that Kane may start the season at center. Our guess is Kane was surprised to hear it, too. And while it wasnt his natural position, Kane played very well in that spot and gave the Blackhawks a great 1-2 punch with Marian Hossa on his right side. Kane didnt have the point totals he wouldve liked but he handled the center job well. He also performed admirably down the stretch, becoming the impromptu team leader when the captain was sidelined for nearly two months with a concussion. But then there was his very quiet postseason -- and then his not-so-quiet start to the offseason.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: His best NHL season came during the Stanley Cup campaign. He and the other stars benefited from that team's outstanding depth. But No. 1 overall picks have to find a way to be more productive than what he provided last year. That need will be even more challenging if his bosses stick to their playoff post-mortem plan to have him become the second-line center. Personally, I'm not a believer that's how he'll be most productive, but I'm always reminded by Steve Konroyd how much Kane loves challenges. If he can parlay what he did in the last six weeks over six months, it'll be a success. His numbers have gone down the last two seasons, anyway. And if I think I know him, Kane's probably laying low, and working hard the rest of the summer to try to prove something next season. The Hawks need him to.

Myers: The Blackhawks want Kanes focus to be on hockey; and during last season, it was. But Kane had another inauspicious start to another summer, and those off-ice stories are now overshadowing anything hes been doing on the ice. Does Kane have a problem and does he need to get help for it? Both of those can only be answered by Kane, and if he doesnt think the former hes not going to seek the latter. For now, the Blackhawks will probably stick with him, but everything has its limit. Theres no doubting Kane is truly a talented player. But its up to him to realize how great of a career he could have and to make sure he doesnt fritter it away.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out the video breakdown of Kane above.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7


Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.