Bears

Bulls Draft: Point guard breakdown

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Bulls Draft: Point guard breakdown

When Derrick Rose went driving to the basket with less than 90 seconds left in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Bulls fans were expecting to see another acrobatic lay-in for the reigning MVPs 24th and 25 points of the afternoon.

Perhaps a kick-out to Kyle Korver for Roses 10th assist. What fans weren't expecting was to see Rose crumble to the ground shortly after landing awkwardly on his left leg, silencing the sellout crowd at the United Center.

The result was a torn ACL, and 12 days later, the Bulls had lost in six games to the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. It was an abrupt end to Roses banged-up season, but he still managed to average 21.8 points and 7.9 assists in 39 games.

Spot starter C.J. Watson filled in well in Roses absence, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists per game in 25 starts. John Lucas III also saw an increase in playing time, and finished with averages of 7.5 points and 2.2 assists in 49 games. Mike James saw limited action in 11 games.

Bulls history

Since 2000, the Bulls have made 29 draft selections. They have spent five of those selections on point guards: 2000: Khalid El-Amin (Connecticut); 2002: Jay Williams (Duke); 2003: Kirk Hinrich (Kansas); 2004: Chris Duhon (Duke); 2008: Derrick Rose (Memphis).

What the Bulls need in a point guard:

As is the case for any Tom Thibodeau-coached player, a Bulls point guard will get after it on the defensive end. The Bench Mob prides itself on stout defensive play, and given Roses eventual return to the lineup, any draft pick will need to lock down the opposing teams second unit point guard. A distributor, compared to a shoot-first point guard like C.J. Watson, would also work as a change-of-pace guard in the Bulls lineup.

Top 15 2012 Draft prospects
1. Damian Lillard, Weber State The two-time Big Sky Player of the Year (2010, 2012) has shot his way into the Lottery, perhaps as high as No. 6 to the Portland Trail Blazers.

2. Dion Waiters, Syrcause The Big Easts Sixth Man of the Year would have started on the majority of teams in the country -- including Syracuse -- if he didnt fit his role so well off the bench. But make no mistake; hell be starting in the Association.
3. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina Arguably the nations best passer, a fractured right wrist in the NCAA Tournament hasnt hurt the leftys status as a potential Lottery selection.

4. Tony Wroten Jr., Washington The tallest of the top point guard prospects, the 6-foot-5 Wroten can score from anywhere and is just 19 years old.
5. Marquis Teague, Kentucky Sometimes the forgotten freshman on the National Champion Wildcats, Teague progressed as the season went along, peaking in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament where he scored 24 points and handed out seven assists.

6. Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas The most experienced point guard on this list, Taylor played at least 26 minutes per game in each of his four seasons with the Jayhawks.

7. Scott Machado, Iona The court general of one of college basketballs most high-powered offenses, Machado led the country with 9.9 assists per game.
8. J'Covan Brown, Texas The Longhorns' leading scorer a year ago (20.1 points) has an excellent jump shot and can find open shooters when he drives.

9. Tu Holloway, Xavier Built more like an NFL fullback than an NBA point guard, Holloway had a disappointing senior season after being named as a Third Team All-American his junior year.
10. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette A shooting guard-turned-point guard, Johnson-Odom did 17 reps on the bench press and had a combine-high 41-inch maximum vertical jump. He was an Honorable Mention All-American this past year.

11. Dee Bost, Mississippi State His shooting is a concern (39.2 percent from the field last year), but Bost is an excellent passer and one of the best defending point guards in this years class.

Analysis

Rose is reportedly ahead of schedule with his rehab, but is still expected to miss a good portion of the 2012-13 season. The Bulls will not be able to replace Rose's leadership or athleticism, let alone his 21.8 points or 7.9 assists per game. But they will need to somehow fill the void left in his absence at the point guard position.

The Bulls have been linked to rumors as a team looking to trade into the Lottery, but with Rose expected to make a full recovery, it wouldn't make much sense for Gar Forman to spend an early pick on a future starting point guard, should they trade up into the top-10.

If they stay at No. 29, Lillard and Marshall would be off the board. Wroten Jr. and Teague would likely be gone, as well. Taylor would be an intriguing selection, given his experience and ability to come in and play right away. The Bulls had success with another former Jayhawk point guard in Hinrich, so a Kansas alum in Taylor may be the answer.

Machado would give the Bulls a pass-first option at the point, different from Rose or Watson, but at just 6-foot-1, his defense is a question mark. If they trade back into the second round, Brown, Johnson-Odom and Bost would all be good fits who could learn under Roses tutelage.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed. 

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

The Phoenix Suns released guard Shaquille Harrison last week, and although it is not a move that will send shockwaves through the league, the Bulls picking up Harrison could be the exact type of move to help solve what ails them.

At 6-foot, 4-inches and with a long wingspan, Harrison would step in and likely be at least the second-best perimeter defender on the team behind Kris Dunn. And he is the type of player, when combined with a talent like Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Dunn, could help form the type of lineup that could have a transformative effect on the overall team defense.

Last season Harrison had a defensive rating of 109, this despite the fact that the Sun—as a team—had a defensive rating of 113.51, over four points worse than when Harrison was on the floor.

His best skill is his ability to “get skinny” around a screener, meaning that on defense, Harrison is adept at angling his body to get around players trying to screen him off his man:


The Bulls need more players who show Harrison’s effort level when navigating screens on defense, not just because it will make life easier on their rim protectors, but because they also need to make sure they continue adding players who lead by example on that end of the floor. A team as young as the Bulls needs to collect young talent who pride themselves on defense, and Harrison fits the part.

When it comes to offense, Harrison doesn’t have the most impressive profile, but his play on that end of the floor is similar to former Bull David Nwaba. Harrison is not even an average 3-point shooter  (23.1 percent from 3-point range), but he makes up for it in other ways.

His rebounding is an area of strength, and fitting in with his preference to bring physicality to his matchup, he is adept at getting to the free throw line.

Last year Harrison’s 30.6 percent free throw attempt rate would’ve been a top-five mark on the Bulls. But his low usage rate (18 percent) will likely be lower in Chicago, so the free throw numbers may fall. But with so many score-first players on the roster, Harrison will still be able to crash the glass against the many guards who forget to box out their man.

Offensive rebounding will be less of a focus for a Bulls team that wants to preach getting back on transition defense, but Harrison gives Fred Hoiberg a special player that can do both. Harrison will run back on defense to help create the “shell” that the best teams create to cut off easy forays to the rim, and then when his team gets the ball back and is on the fastbreak, he brings value as the “trailer” (trailing man on a fastbreak) even without shooting ability:

This signing could end up being a big one for the Bulls, however small it may seem now.

Around the league, more and more teams are starting to invest resources in multiple ball-handler offenses that negate the differences between point guard and shooting guard, making versatile back court defenders a must.

This will be evident when the Bulls take on the Dallas Mavericks in game No. 3 of the regular season, as Rick Carlisle's Mavericks feature Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic in an explosive offense that doesn't have a defined "lead" guard.

The Bulls will continue to attempt to curtail offense with a high-scoring back court duo when they take on the Charlotte Hornets in a back-to-back on October 26 and 27. If Harrison is worked into the rotation by then, expect to see Harrison and Dunn on the floor together to match up with Doncic and Smith respectively, but have the flexibility to switch defensive assignments on the fly. If Chicago's perimeter defense starts to offer significantly more resistance, it will allow quicker improvement from Carter and the rest of the Bulls bigs on the interior.

With Zach LaVine currently in the top-five in the NBA in points per game, Dunn returning and Lauri Markkanen getting healthy, the Bulls front office is slowly approaching the point where their team has enough players who are considered possible focal points of an offense.

To become a championship contender, you need to have that one player who is unequivocally a superstar capable of a heavy workload, and only time will tell if the Bulls already have that player or need to acquire him. But the other important factor in building a championship roster is having the elite-level role players who do the little things that make life easier for their teammates in all phases of the game, and Shaq Harrison is excellent prospect who fits that exact mold.