Bulls

Bulls Draft: Shooting guard breakdown

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Bulls Draft: Shooting guard breakdown

Off-season acquisition Rip Hamilton did not bring stability the Bulls had hoped for, as the 13-year veteran appeared in just 28 games and averaged 11.6 points, the lowest mark since his rookie season in Washington.

His productivity picked up toward the end of the year, and his injury-plagued season can be somewhat linked to the lockout-shortened season. But at 34 years old, Hamilton cant be counted on as an everyday starter.

Kyle Korver enjoyed one of the best shooting seasons of his career. The 6-foot-7 wing connected on more than 43 percent of his 3-pointers, the second-best mark of his career, behind only the blistering 53.6 percent he shot from beyond the arc in 2009-10.

Jimmy Butler and Ronnie Brewer, both natural small forwards, also saw time at shooting guard when the Bulls used a bigger lineup. C.J. Watson played alongside Derrick Rose at times, as well.

Bulls history

Since 2000, the Bulls have made 29 draft selections. They have spent five of those selections on shooting guards: 2000: A.J. Guyton (Indiana); 2002: Roger Mason (Virginia); 2004: Ben Gordon (Connecticut); 2007: JamesOn Curry (Oklahoma State); 2008: Sonny Weems (Arkansas)
What the Bulls need in a shooting guard

As the most inconsistent position in Chicago last year, the Bulls need a scorer. Luol Dengs ability to play on the perimeter took some pressure off Rose, but the Bulls could use another shooter to open up the offense. With the contract statuses of Korver and Brewer in the air (which well discuss next week), depth at the position would be a warm welcome to a position that needs improvement.

Top 11 2011 Draft prospects
1. Bradley Beal, Florida Comparisons to a young Ray Allen may be a bit much, but the 6-foot-3 Beal has the makings of a premier shooter and will be off the board within the first four picks.

2. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut The lanky wing averaged 17.7 points per game in his sophomore season, but will need to put on some more muscle before he reaches his full potential in the NBA.
3. Terrence Ross, Washington At 6-foot-6, Ross brings a great skill set to the table as a slasher, above-average rebounder and underrated passer. He will need to improve on his shooting, as he shot just 37 percent from beyond the arc last year.

4. Austin Rivers, Duke Playing primarily point guard last year for the Blue Devils, Rivers oozes with potential at 19 years old.

5. Doron Lamb, Kentucky The Wildcats sharpshooter last year, Lamb shot better than 46 percent from beyond the arc and averaged 13.7 points per game.

6. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt No one in college basketball made more 3-pointers (129) than the SECs two-time scoring champion.

7. Evan Fournier, France One of the top international prospects, Fournier has an impressive mid-range game and can get to the basket. At just 19 years old, hell need to add strength at the next level.

8. Will Barton, Memphis Aggrey Sams choice for the Bulls in his most recent mock draft, Barton would bring versatility and length give him a chance to crack the rotation right away for a Bulls team that will likely have several new faces.

9. Orlando Johnson, UC-Santa Barbara Johnson has excellent length and averaged 19.7 points per game last year for the Guachos.

10. Jared Cunningham, Oregon State At 6-foot-5, Cunningham possesses great athleticism and court vision, but needs improvement on his outside shot.

11. William Buford, Ohio State A four-year starter for the Buckeyes, Buford struggled from the outside his senior season but has great size and is a solid defender.

NOTE: Dion Waiters was included in the point guard rankings.

Analysis

The Bulls reported desire to move into the Lottery could certainly be to go after a shooting guard. Beal will be gone but every other name above may be available toward the back-end of the top-14 picks. This years class is full of capable scorers, and if the Bulls stay their current position (No. 29) Doron Lamb, Jenkins, Fournier and Barton will all be in the mix. Most of the prospects will need some seasoning early, but could help the Bulls scoring woes at the position at some point next season.

Of the five positions, its most logical that the Bulls would go after a shooting guard with their first pick, but if their cap room dictates they can keep Korver and Brewer, the best player available will be chosen. Still, Korver (31 years old) and Hamilton (34) arent getting any younger, so Gar Forman and John Paxson will need to address the position sooner than later.

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
 
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
 
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
 
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
 
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
 
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
 
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
 
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
 
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.